Skip to main content

Full text of "Ashland Theological Journal (1999 - 2004)"

See other formats


Digitized by the Internet Arciiive 

in 2011 witii funding from 

LYRASIS members and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/ashlandtheologic3136bake 




J 



Library 

Grace College and Seminary 
Winona Lake, IN 46590 



For Reference 



Not to be taken from this room 



•^l 



ISSN: 1044-6494 




GRACE COUEGf 

MORGAN LIBRARY 
200 Seminary Drive 
Winona Lake, IN 46590 



Ashland 

Theological 

Journal 



Ashland Theological Seminary 
Ashland, Ohio 1999 



ISSN: 1044-6494 
Ashland Theological Seminary 
Ashland, Ohio 

ASHLAND THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 

1999 

CONTENTS 

An Encounter with the Living Christ 1 

Carol Ball 
A Personal Understanding of Suffering 3 

Emoke Tapolyai Dobos 

Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Corinthians 13 1 1 

Russell Morton 

A Plea for Holy Fellowship: 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 25 

Victoria Wheeler 

Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New 
Testament 32 

David A. deSilva 

Ethics and Community 85 

Thomas L. Michaels 

Concepts and Our Understanding of Them 93 

James P. Danaher 

Approaches to Genesis: A Review Article 103 

David W. Baker 

Book Reviews 109 

David W. Baker, Editor 

Journal articles are indexed in Elenchus ofBiblica, New Testament Abstracts, 
Old Testament Abstracts, Religious and Theological Abstracts and Religion 
Index One; reviews are indexed in Index to Book Reviews in Religion. The 
latter two indices, published by ATLA, 820 Church Street, Evanston, Illinois 
60201, are also available online through BRS Information Technologies, 
DIALOG Information Services and Wilsonline. Views of contributors are their 
own and do not necessarily express those endorsed by Ashland Theological 
Seminary. 

VOLUME XXXI 

Published and copyright held by Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, 

Ohio, 44805. Printed in the USA. 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

An Encounter With the Healing Christ 

Carol Ball* 

On a dull gray Dallas morning in November 1997 the grand ballroom 
of the Hyatt Regency hotel was filled with a warm, bright, encompassing light. 
It wasn't a light produced by the ballroom fixtures, nor one that could be 
physically seen. Rather it was felt and experienced from within, yet was just 
as real as if it had been tangible. The unexpected events of that morning could 
not have been predicted by the more than two thousand American Association 
of Christian Counselors (AACC) delegates gathered from around the globe at 
a plenary session of the World Conference. The designated speaker that 
morning was the President of Compassion International. He was to challenge 
our thinking on poverty as we wrestled with the conference topic of "Christian 
Counseling in Partnership with the Local Church and the World Community." 
After a time of joyful worship and introduction Dr. Wesley K. Stafford stepped 
to the podium to begin his address. This tall, dignified, impeccably dressed 
man began to convey his passionate concern for those caught in poverty in the 
third world. His words were initially forceful, calm and confident. There was 
a hesitation, followed by a pause and then the unexpected happened. The Spirit 
of the living God unequivocally moved in our midst. 

Somewhat tentatively Wesley began to share at a deeper personal 
level. He had been unexpectedly summoned to Florida to testify at a 
Disciplinary Board Hearing of a mission organization held the previous day. 
He switched gears. He had spent his childhood summers as the "only white 
boy" in an African village on the Ivory Coast where his father was a 
missionary. There he felt accepted and that he "belonged." It was in this 
setting that he came to understand poverty at its grass roots. The rest of the 
year he attended boarding school with 80 other boys whose parents were in the 
mission field. Wesley lowered his head, his voice dropped, and his tone 
changed. At school he and the other boys experienced "every kind of abuse 
known to man," physical, emotional, and sexual, enduring numerous weekly 
beatings. He went on to share how he was required to send a weekly letter to 
his parents saying how "happy" he was, as it was impressed upon him and the 
other boys the importance of "not jeopardizing the significant work their 
parents were doing for God." None of them had spoke out until recently. At 
the previous days' hearing several of the men shared details of their boyhood 
experiences in the presence of their former abusers. Wesley's voice quivered. 

*Carol Ball (MA in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling from ATS, 1988) is 
a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Westlake, Ohio. 



An Encounter with the Healing Christ 

This had been a wrenching emotional experience for him. He faltered. The 
accused had flatly denied the testimony of those who had risked breaking their 
silence. He could not go on speaking. His pain was palpable to each person in 
the ballroom. There was a hushed silence. Tears quietly ran down this 
dignified man's face as he stood alone before the microphone. 

The hush was broken as a lone female voice rang out from the back of 
the ballroom. "IT WAS NOT A LIE! WE BELIEVE YOU!" Instinctively and 
instantaneously the counseling professionals came to life and sprang to their 
feet. Applause erupted. As the deafening clapping filled the ballroom, Wesley 
began to sob. The applause escalated. As it went on, and on, Wesley's sobs 
intensified. Layers of emotional and spiritual pain, buried for years, were 
released. Gary Collins (at that time the AACC president) moved to the podium. 
This relatively shorter father-figure stretched his arm around the shoulders of 
this hurting son, and as silence descended quietly began to pray. Over 2,000 
hearts joined in intercession, awed by the gentle presence and tangible power 
of the Holy Spirit. As the prayer time ended applause erupted again. Wesley 
hugged Gary, dried his eyes and straightened his shoulders. As he made eye 
contact with the audience a rueful grin spread across his face and his eyes 
twinkled. "The Lord knew I needed the help of a counselor today, but did he 
have to give me 2, 497 of you....?!" 

When the laughter died down, Wesley was able to deliver his prepared 
address with power, vigor and eloquence. As he left the conference later that 
day his comment to Gary was, "This morning I walked into a ballroom filled 
with strangers. This afternoon my heart is filled with gratitude as I leave a 
family." He had encountered the healing Christ when he had least expected it, 
and was changed by the experience. So were those of us who were present. 
Our hearts were "strangely warmed." Just as surely as if we had been on the 
road to Emmaus the living, comforting presence of Jesus had been with us. In 
the power of the Holy Spirit we had become the Body of Christ to a brother in 
pain. The next day, we, too, would leave the conference changed by the 
experience, and, just maybe, be a little less surprised when we unexpectedly 
encounter the warmth and power of God's light in the dull gray days of our 
counseling lives!! 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

A PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING OF SUFFERING 

by Emoke Tapolyai* 

Death a personal reality 

As I sit by my notes from class I wonder, what is suffering? Loss. 
What is death? For many it is Tom and Jerry kilHng each other seventy times 
in sixty seconds and still living. It is a reality that we do not deal with until we 
have to. 

For me, death and suffering were always a part of life. I remember my 
great-grandmother who died when I was four years old. Many times I have 
heard how she begged God for a little girl after the five boys, and how she 
loved me. I remember looking up at her, her dark, long dress, fragile small 
body, and sometimes I even think I remember her voice. Yet what is left from 
her is not memory of knowledge, but of feelings. I feel how she felt for me. 
I do miss that. 

Then, as years passed one of my grandmothers died. She is more vivid 
in my memory. I recall the big family gathering at her funeral, and I remember 
crying, hurting though not fully comprehending what was happening. 

I was nineteen years old when death, fully dressed, appeared at my 
door. At that time I was in the United States as a political refugee and was not 
allowed to go back to Hungary, my home country. My grandfather, with whom 
I had spent all my childhood summers, died. I talked to him on the phone a day 
or two before his death. I remember arguing with God: "I believe in miracles! 
I promise I will do better! Keep him, God! Are You there? Just say You'll do 
whatever You can!". Oh how I begged Him, and bargained with Him. I went 
as far as agreeing to his death as long as I had a chance to say good bye. And 
when my grandfather died, I thought it was because I could not pray well, 
because I did not pray hard enough. I should have fasted and knelt those days 
through. I was guilty. I was not allowed to return to bury him, so death was 
even harder to believe. 

Two years later I pleaded for my grandmother's life. I was twenty-one 
and knew how to pray better, or at least I thought so. She was my role model. 
She was the one who taught me to pray and praise. I remember the times in my 
childhood when we knelt together by the bedside and, after finishing all my 
requests, she would smile and say: "Praise Him now! Thank Him now!" Even 
now, ten years later, tears are flowing down my face. I did not pray well. I did 
not fast long enough. I was guilty. She was gone to praise Him face to face. 
I was not allowed to go back and say good-bye to her. She died alone, and we 

*Em6ke Tapolyai (M.Mus., Cleveland State) is an MACPC student at ATS. 



A Personal Understanding of Suffering 

prayed so far away from her - alone. I started to come to realize that physical 
presence has such an important part in suffering and in letting go. 

God did not spare us from pain. Two years later, as if it were meant 
to happen every other year, my 36-year-old sister died. God gave me another 
chance to plead for a life I loved, but I failed again. She left me, my family, 
and her two little babies then six and eight years old. I was guilty to the third 
degree. 

What is my understanding on suffering? What a question! How could 
anyone answer it without experiencing it first? How can anyone who has 
already experienced it answer it without reliving it? Is there really such a thing 
as understanding suffering? Death does not make sense. 

Theonly one kind of pain that does make sense is birth. There at the 
shadows of life and death, there where everything is distant and only struggles 
are left, pain makes sense. It is accompanied by the hope of a new love, a new 
life. That is the only form of suffering and pain that seems to have a purpose, 
ft is not only a time of physical pain, but a time when life is at its review. 
Everything from the past and present is at trial in the minutes that might take a 
life - mine, or his, or both of ours. Still, that makes sense because of hope. 

Hope? What hope is left after the ones we love are gone? Many say 
there is no hope. What do they know? There is no comparable hope to that of 
the ones who have just lost someone. They believe in miracles like no other 
person ever before. They hope for the resurrection of the dead and they look 
for that. They hope for reconciliation with the one that filed for divorce. They 
hope for recovery. They hope day and night. All of them do. We, my family, 
we all did. I did. 

And when hope fails, new feelings replace it. Yes, feelings that we do 
not ever admit, even to ourselves, because God might punish us with a loss of 
another loved one for feeling this way. It takes one loss to change the image 
of a loving God into a punishing, rebuking unfair power. It takes loss to turn 
a child of God into the accused offender whose sins and deficiencies are the 
cause of loss in God's courtroom. False understandings, and yet so real. They 
go through our minds and we are almost unable to control them. Who is there 
to blame? We find them! 

Going through the loss of a loved one is always, truly a 
disappointment with God. "Because those who commit their lives to God, no 
matter what, instinctively expect something in return" (Philip Yancey, 
Disappointment with God[Grar\d Rapids: Zondervan, 1 988], 37). I was so self- 
righteous and convinced that since I lived my life to the best I could meet His 
standards. I deserved to be heard. Oh, how 1 searched for meaning, and yet 
never found it. Even today I do not see reason or meaning in death. 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

In Him all things are new - including our understandings and feelings 

Through the grace of God I have come to reaUze that Hfe was created 
by God and death was chosen by man. Death is the nature that is in us. It is not 
a punishment for something I have done or missed doing. When Christians 
hear such statements concerning "nature," they tend to disregard them as 
secular thoughts. It all depends on how deeply we read and accept the Word. 

When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. 
Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for 
everyone sinned. ... So just as sin ruled over all people and 
brought them to death, now God's Wonderful kindness rules 
instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in 
etemallifethrough Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 5: 12,21) , 

These words tie in with much that has been mentioned in class. 
"People live more by promises than by explanations" (Douglas Little, class 
presentation in Biblical Themes in Pastoral Counseling. Oct. 30.1997). The 
'whys' can never be answered since there are things that we cannot 
comprehend, but we have the promise that we shall meet again because of the 
grace of God. It is this hope that shall never fail us and the only hope that can 
bring change into our lives. 

And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit 
within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be 
released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously 
for that day when God will give us our full rights as his 
children, including the new bodies he has promised. Now 
that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. 
For if you already have something, you don't need to hope 
for it. But if we look forward to something we don't have 
yet, we must wait patiently and confidently. And the 
Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don't even 
know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. 
But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that 
cannot be expressed in words. (Rom. 8:23-26) 

What comforting words. In times of suffering, people do not know 
what to feel, what to say, and how to pray. But then, the Holy Spirit will help, 
and God the Father understands. What a relief it is to know that I can try to 
pray for relief of pain, for hope and a future perspective. And trying is 
enough, because I don't need to know everything and I don't have to live up 



A Personal Understanding of Suffering 

to expectations of behavior and feelings. God has no expectations at this point. 
His love understands. His love sends us his Spirit to work within us, to pray 
for what we are not even aware of. Oh, what a love! What a Gift! Yet we 
forget this and fight to feel what we supposed to feel and act as we and others 
think we should act. If we could just learn to relax in his arms, to trust him and 
let him work within us. 

I am at peace now. ... No, it would sound nice, but I am not. I never 
will be. I let my emotions sleep and rest, but they can be awakened any time 
when I let that happen. The question, "do we ever fully recover?", is answered. 
No, never. Not on this earth. I still find myself at times wanting to write my 
grandparents a letter. Sometimes I want to send them pictures of our children. 
Every time something good happens, 1 want to share it with them. I want to talk 
to my sister, to whom 1 came so close a few months before her death. I want 
to share my thoughts with her. And then I realize they are gone. For how long? 
Time is not a factor. They left us yesterday and that v^2& forever ago. 

I didn't before, but now I believe, that they do see us and are with us. 
Or is it just another false comforter? Even if it is, it does not hurt. It soothes 
the pain and brings them 1 0% back. How ridiculous it sounds: 1 0% back. After 
the loss of a loved one, everything matters about them. Everything counts. 
Every detail has a meaning, a memory, and has emotion attached to it. With 
time, it softens, but never disappears. 

As the memories are playing hide-and-seek in my heart, I come to 
realize the importance of the present. It often takes us by surprise. Death never 
creeps up on us. It enters with the entire door in its hand. It bursts into life and 
does not care about the sounds that it makes. So what should we living do 
about it? Fear? Run? Some do fear throughout life. Some become slaves of 
fear and run. But Jesus' words shall encourage us, "1 am leaving you with a 
gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the 
world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid" (John 14: 27). 

It is the living that we should focus on. It is I and my relationship with 
the Father that should be my focus. It is my relationship with those who are 
still here. For "He is the God of the living, not the dead" (Mark 12:27). God, 
help us not to worship the dead, but to manifest your love in the living! It is 
them on whom we should focus. It is they who should experience the love that 
was given to us to give. It is easy to forget about the living, but Jesus' second 
greatest commandment is valid even in times of suffering "Love your neighbor" 
(Mark 12:31). It is a commandment that requires moving on. 

What can I do? The counselor at the residues of death 

So what is there after death? My husband had 38-40 funerals a year 



Ashland Theological Journal 3! {] 999) 

in the church where he was pastoring in Hungary. Some of those were 
children, some mothers, others elderly. Some suicidal, some accidental. The 
families came to him, talked or sat quietly. I remember at times they would sit 
and talk for more than an hour, sometimes close to two hours. What was there 
then and what is there now to offer? 

The world and the church are full of false comfort. They do not know 
what to say and how to act, or they think that they know it so well that they say 
everything theological but lose the person who is suffering and ignore the 
emotions. 

I have found with others who often came to me that all they needed 
was someone to be present with them. They had talked to themselves and to 
God so much that they needed someone else to listen and to hear. They never 
asked what I thought. They never asked what I would advise them at this time 
of their life. They just sat, cried, talked or looked out the window in silence. 
Those were comforting moments of silence. How wonderful it was to watch 
as they stood up, wiped their tears away, and said, "thank you". All I needed 
to do was take time out for them. Listen: that is the first and most important 
role of a counselor in times of suffering. Empathy is not always verbal. It is 
ears and eyes that listen and are not afraid to look behind the tears. 

One thing that I am very strongly against are the thoughtless words 
and expressions, the cliches that are like oil on fire. They deepen the wounds. 
It is hard to experience that even those whom we trust do not understand our 
agony. As a counselor, I would rather say:"I don't know what to say. I'm 
sorry" than throw foolish blankets on their pain to cover the emotions with 
which I cannot deal. 

I also see their need for questions. They do like to remember and they 
need to do so. Often my husband would ask them to talk about the deceased 
member of their family, and they calmed down and found comfort in memories 
and in sharing those memories. It was these times of discovery that helped 
them in their counseling and in the sermon that my husband preached at the 
funeral. I think it is similar to what I want to do. I will want to explore what 
the lost person meant to them, and how they remember him. It could provide 
guidelines for me as the counselor in furthering steps in the counseling process, 
and could help them to recognize and organize their thoughts and emotions. 

The more difficult part of counseling the suffering is that which 
focuses on the future. People in Hungary do not believe in counseling. They 
want to deal with their pain on their own. At least that is what they think. 
However, taking a closer look at them will show their openness and their 
desperate need for help. They talk at their garden gates, in the market, in the 
stores and on the streets. They talk to anyone and everyone, as long as it does 



A Personal Understanding of Suffering 

not look "official". Many came to me bringing goods from their garden. They 
said they came to share what God had given them. They seemed ready to leave, 
but when 1 offered them a chair and my time, they talked with a speed beyond 
limits. It is during these times, after the funeral and when the newness of death 
has passed, when it is not the talk of the village anymore, when they need us 
most. It is then when they are the loneliest. It is then when they are ready for 
the future. They want to go on with life, but do not know how. It is good, 
therefore, to have an understanding of how to advise them. At these times they 
are thankful to hear someone else say that they are capable of doing things. 
They take showers that refreshen them in hearing that they have strengths and 
abilities. They are like little children who eagerly wait for incentives. They 
want to move on, but need that first push. This cannot be done without 
knowledge and understanding of the person and his loss. It is then that the time 
spent in listening and gentle questioning brings its fruit. The information that 
we are not aware of, and the answers and guidelines that we are not capable of 
giving, will be supplemented by the Holy Spirit. That is the difference between 
secular and pastoral counselors. We are strengthened and guided by the 
greatest Counselor. 

These times of comforting, exploring, and searching can develop to the 
final stage of counseling, which is the belief in the future. That is a long 
process that takes time and energy. It takes acceptance that things will never 
be the same, yet still life has a purpose. We are called to help them focus on 
God and his calling for them. As they draw closer to God, they will experience 
the peace that only he can give and does give. They will then be able to move 
from the dead to the living and live for God and those who are left here. 

I recall a young woman who lost her father. For two years she 
struggled and struggled, and felt like she would never recover. When she 
finally met Christ as the Love, the Comforter, the Redeemer, she slowly came 
to realize that she was called to live for action. She became one of the most 
supportive members in our church in children's ministries, and is still the one 
who holds the young mothers' group together. There was no magic ointment 
involved in her recovery. It was simply and yet most complexly the experience 
of the closeness of God and the hearing of his call that have changed her life. 
The absence of her father is still there. The pain still awakens at times. But she 
got up and is no longer crawling at the feet of death. 

As I think through this, 1 remember one of Jesus' healings: Bartimeus 
came to Jesus, although many tried to stop him. He was blind and wanted to 
see. Those who suffer want to see. They come to us, because they sense Jesus. 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked. 
"Teacher," the blind man said, "I want to see!" 
And Jesus said to him, "Go your way. Your faith has healed 
you." And instantly the blind man could see! Then he 
followed Jesus down the road. Mark 1 0:5 1 -52 

This is my desire as a counselor to those who are suffering, to bring them to 
Jesus so they might see. See the future as a way through the times of pain. 
See a road that they may step on to follow Jesus, to move on, to act, and to live. 



Dl 
DI 



BAKER BOOK HOUSE 



THE&CEOF 



A Survey of 

CoBtem|M»ary 

Approaches 



PBate BillTSiTidW 



www.bakerbooks.com 

The Face of Old Testament Studies 

A Survey of Contemporary Approaches 
David W. Baker and Bill T. Arnold, eds. 

Sixteen essays by leading scholars trace developments 
of the past twenty-five years in major areas of Old 
Testament research. Each essay also points the way for- 
ward, highlighting new directions and methodologies. 



0-8010-2215-0 



$34.99c 



496 pages 





More Light on the Path 

Daily Scripture Readings in Hebrew and Greek 
David W. Baker and Elaine A. Heath, 
with Morven Baker 

Brief daily readings from the Hebrew Bible and the 
Greek New Testament help seminarians and pastors 
keep their language skills well-honed. Translation 
helps are provided with the text. 



0-8010-2165-0 



$21.99p 



384 pages 



Encountering the Old Testament 

A Cliristian Survey 

Bill T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer 

This introductory college-level treatment features full- 
color photographs, interactive CD-ROM, and many 
other helpfixl features. "Hardly could an inquisitive stu- 
dent ask for better guidance." — Elmer Martens 



0-8010-2176-6 



$49.99c 



512 pages 



Encountering the Book of Genesis 

Bill T. Arnold 

"A superb introduction to the book of Genesis. Arnold's 
style is lucid and well-balanced, and the format adopt- 
ed by the publisher is crisp and user- friendly. This is 
an important addition to the resources available to a 
serious student of Genesis." — Daniel I. Block 




0-8010-2177-4 



$24,990 



240 pages 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Corinthians 13 

By Russell Morton* 

Introduction 

In 1 Cor 12- 14 Paul proposes several solutions to divisions within the 
Corinthian church caused by strife over spiritual gifts. One is thirough the 
metaphor of the "body of Christ," which was intended to alleviate two opposite, 
but related errors. On the one hand, individuals lacking the more dramatic 
gifts were denigrating their own contribution to the Christian community. 
Likewise, those possessing more dramatic and showy gifts held those lacking 
these manifestations in some contempt.' In short, we see a situation 
characterized by stratification. To alleviate this problem,^ to put the role of 
gifts into perspective, Paul proposes his most profound answer to Corinthian 
factionalism by inserting 1 Cor. 13, the "love chapter"^ into his argument. This 
is one of the most cherished portions of the entire NT, and for good reason. 
Yet, however valuable it is simply to read over the text, to meditate upon it, and 
to memorize it, one should also take time to analyze its contents and begin to 
plumb the depths of Paul's thought. 

Linguistic Excursus on the Three Common Greek Words for Love 

Often individuals expounding this text to discuss the differences 
between the three most common Greek nouns used for love, 
(j)iAo(; ( philos ), epcog (eros) and ccYaTrri ( agape ), epwg (eros), we are told, 
is passionate love. (|)iAo(; ( philos ), on the other hand, is brotherly love or 
affection. dyaTrri ( agape ), or disinterested, unconditional love, however, is 
what we are to strive for. This analysis is convenient, and as it regards hfiur, 
is even, to a great extent, correct". The problem comes in the discussion of 
(f)iAo(; ( philos ) and ocYaTrri ( agape ). Here, the comparison breaks down, for 
the differences between the two words are neither as significant, nor as 
profound, as is often asserted. The word (J)iAog ( philos ), for example, had 
traditionally represented the most significant form of love in classical Greek. 
Also, in the NT, the Gospel of John often employs (j)iAo(; ( philos ) and aydTrri 
(agape ) synonymously.^ The verbal form (j)iAeco (phileo ), however, became 
commonly associated with the act of a kiss by the first century,^ and, thus, 
became a somewhat problematic as a term for love. 

CLy6iTi\\ ( agape ) , on the other hand, was the word most commonly 
used in the LXX to translate the various Hebrew terms for love.^ 

*Russell Morton (Th.D., Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago) is Research 
Librarian at A.T.S. 



11 



Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Cor. 13 

Thus, in the Greek OT, dyaTcri ( agape ) has a range of meaning which is just as 
vague as our word "love" in Enghsh. It has both secular and religious 
meanings. In the secular realm, it can mean the love parents have for children, 
and is, thus, a natural term to refer to God's special love for Israel.* On the 
other hand, it can also be used for erotic love, as it is in the case of 2 Sam 13:1- 
22, the story of Amnon's attack on Tamar. 

Yet, the word also has a religious connotation, where God is moved 
by love for the people with whom he has established his covenant. Abraham, 
for example, is one who is "beloved" of God, with whom the covenant is 
established. Furthermore, in the commandment of Lev 19:18, 34, the people 
of Israel are instructed to love their neighbors as a sign of their covenant with 
God. The concept of one's love for God, nevertheless, undoubtedly reaches its 
epitomal expression in Jer. 31:31, where readers are promised a new heart and 
a new covenant, where one will respond to God not in fear, but pure love.^ 

The point of this excursus is to show that words do not have intrinsic 
meaning, but derive significance fi-om their context.'" \nPau\,a.ydTi'T] (agape) 
means unconditional love which God shows to his people, because the Apostle, 
versed in the language and imagery of the Greek OT, uses it that way. Just as 
God has acted in the past, through love to select the people of Israel, so now 
God has acted in Jesus Christ, and through the sending of the Holy Spirit to 
create a new people, the church. It is created as a result of God's act of 
unconditional love, and, as a result, our response to God should be one of love 
and thanksgiving. God's work of love is, furthermore, eschatological, the one 
thing that exceeds hope and faith ( 1 Cor 13:13; cf 1 Thess 1:3; 5:8; Col 1:4-5). 
It is what motivates God and God's people, and what leads to the culmination 
of God's purposes on earth." Perhaps nowhere is this conviction better 
summarized than in 1 Cor. 13. It is here, rather than in dubious word studies 
that we find the true definition of Christian love. • ,, 

1 Corinthians 13 in the Context of Chapters 12-14 

It is not fortuitous that Paul places his argument here.'^ Although it 
is something of a digression, "as with all such 'digressions,' it is fully relevant 
to the context, and without it the succeeding argument would loose much of its 
force.'"^ It is through his discussion of love that the Apostle is able to redirect 
the Corinthian Christians' concern with gifts and manifestations and to place 
it "within a broader ethical context."''' 

Paul employs some of the language of 12:8-9 in his enumeration of 
gifts and virtues, which, without love, are at best incomplete, and at worse 
profitless. In 13:1, 8, he mentions tongues, which was listed in 12:8, and in 
14:1-25 appear to be a cause of great disorder in the church. In 13:2, 8, Paul 



12 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

alludes to prophecies, which, again are mentioned in 12:8, and are considered 
the superior gift in 14:1-5,24-25. In 13:2 Paul also makes reference to miracle 
working faith, which is referred to as a spiritual gift in 12:9.'^ In short, 1 Cor 
13 is the pivotal point of Paul's argument, to show that overt manifestations of 
spirituality, as one finds in the gifts, must be subordinated to the good of the 
community. The argument that begins with the metaphor of the "Body of 
Christ" is now confirmed when Paul decides to show or indicate the "more 
excellent" or "higher" way (1 Cor. 12:31). 

Analysis 

Most commentators are agreed that 1 Cor. 1 3 falls into three basic 
divisions:'' (1) 13:1-3; (2) 13:4-7; and (3) 13:8-13. These sections will be 
discussed under the following heads: (1) 13:1-3, The necessity of love; (2) 
13:4-7, The characteristics of love; and (3) 13:8-13, The eternal endurance of 
love. 

1. 13:1-3. The Necessity of Love 

Paul introduces his discussion of love by connecting it with his 
previous discussion of the nature of spiritual gifts. In 12:3 lb, he says that he 
will show, or point out, to his readers, the "more excellent way." Having just 
reminded the Corinthians that they are all the body of Christ, and members 
individually (12:27),'^ the Apostle proceeds to give a short list of gifts in 
descending order of importance, first apostles, second prophets, etc., in 12:28. 
In 12:29-30, the readers are reminded that no gift characterizes every member 
of the church. Nevertheless, the Corinthians are exhorted to "be zealous for the 
greater gifts" ( 1 2:3 1 ). Paul, then, shifts his discussion, by pointing to the "more 
excellent way." 

The concept of a "way" is not unique to Paul. In Acts, Christianity 
itself is referred to as, "The Way" (see Acts 22:4; 24: 14, 22). Furthermore, the 
introductory section of the Didache (Did 1-6) is known as the "Two ways," 
where the way of life is contrasted with the way of death. In the context of 1 
Cor 12-14, however, Paul is not simply describing a way leading to one of the 
gifts, "but one that leads beyond them, nor is it a way that leads to love, but 
love w the way, at the same time also the goal of... 'pursuing' and striving.'"'^ 
Indeed, the spiritual gifts only have value as they are exercised in the context 
of love.'^ 

In 13:1, Paul begins a series of "if... then" clauses, where some of 
the spiritual manifestation listed in 1 2:8- 1 are shown to be meaningless in the 
absence of love. First, he refers to the gift the Corinthians seem to hold in 
highest esteem, tongues. "If I speak in the tongues of humans and angels, but 
I have not love, I have become an echoing brass and a clashing cymbal." The 

13 



Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Cor. 13 

language is harsh, but even harsher than we may at first reahze. To be regarded 
as a mere noisemaker is bad enough. A clashing cymbal, however, is the kind 
of sound which was, in the first century, often affiliated with ecstatic cults.^° 
Thus, Paul asserts that even though one practices ecstatic speech and praises 
God in the language of angels, if this action is not accompanied by divine love. 
Christians are like their neighbors who clang cymbals and gongs in order to 
attract the attention of their deaf and mute idols. Thus, spiritual gifts, even the 
most dramatic, cannot be an end in and of themselves, but must be accompanied 
by love. Here is where the Corinthians have gone tragically wrong. They have 
placed supreme value on "experience" over the Christian ethic, the love of God, 
demonstrated in his gift of Christ to us. 

In addition to tongues, Paul also cites two other gifts, which were of 
great importance to the Corinthian congregation, prophecy and knowledge. 
Paul himself values prophecy, and holds it up as the most significant of the gifts 
(see 14:1, 3-5, 13-25). Yet, if it is unaccompanied by love, Paul states, "I am 
nothing." The same can be said about knowledge. The Corinthians themselves 
seem to have placed special value on "knowledge" (see 1 Cor 8:1 -3). In ch. 8, 
the issue is whether or not idols have any reality. If they do not, some 
Corinthians argued, then eating idol meat is irrelevant, since the idol is nothing. 
Here, the emphasis seems to be on proper understanding of the eschatological 
situation of the church,^' so as to understand spiritual mysteries, especially in 
the form of special revelations (see 14:6). In both cases, however, knowledge 
must take a back seat to love. In 8:1-3, the knowledge of some leads to 
defiling the conscience of the spiritually weak (8:7), leading to their spiritual 
destruction over food (8:8-10). Indeed, later on Paul equates the actions of 
eating meat dedicated to idols as participating in the demonic (10:1 4-22). Thus, 
"knowledge," when divorced from love, leads to spiritual ruin. 

Likewise, to know all mysteries, if not combined with love, profits the 
Christian nothing. One can have spiritual insights, one can be bestowed with 
great discernment, but, if it is divorced from love, it is of no use to that person 
in the final judgment. It would be truly ironic for one to have such a spiritual 
gift, yet be ignorant of one's own condition before God. Yet, such blindness 
is possible, and Paul warns about it most emphatically. 

Furthermore, one may have great miracle working faith, the kind of 
faith described in \2:9}^ Paul seems to allude here, however, to the Jesus 
tradition recorded in Mk 1 1 :23 and Mt 17:20, and describes such faith as able 
"to move mountains."^^ Nevertheless, the most powerful faith is vain if it is not 
accompanied by love. Finally, in 13:3, we find two more aspects which 
demonsfrate the need for Christian love. On the one hand, Paul points to 
philanthropy. While not denying that we should care for the poor, or that such 
concern may have social merit,^'' Paul leaves open the possibility that it can be 

14 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

motivated by a loveless spirit. Thus, if one divides up one's property and doles 
it out^^ bit by bit, if the individual lacks love, the action is worthless. 

The next phrase is somewhat obscure. The textual evidence is divided. 
It is usually translated "if I give up my body to be burned." Yet, if only one 
Greek letter is changed, we read, "If I give my body up so that I may boast."^^ 
While a number of scholars support the reading of "to be burned,"" there is 
also very strong ms. support for, "that I may boast." If the former reading is 
correct, Paul may have in mind the image of the seven brothers, who in 2 Mace 
7, allowed themselves to suffer martyrdom, even at the cost of being burned 
alive, rather than renounce the Jewish law. This imagery continued to be 
popular in Judaism, and was developed in gruesome detail in 4 Mace Another 
possibility is that Paul may be speaking of self-immolation, as in the case of an 
Indian mystic who burned himself alive in Athens. ^^ 

On the other hand, if the latter reading is original, what we may have 
is a parallel to the idea of dividing up all one's possessions. Here is an 
individual who is willing so far as to be sold into slavery to give to the poor. 
But the motive is not love, but that "I may boast." It may be, somewhat 
fortuitous that the text is obscure here, with either image providing a warning 
to readers. While not many of us personally may be threatened with 
martyrdom, the temptation always exists to boast in our spiritual 
accomplishments. Especially in this "politically correct" age, it is possible 
someone would sell all he or she had, and take a much lower paying position, 
in order to prove spirituality. Another possibility, at least in Roman Catholic 
and some Anglican circles, would be to join a religious order, to totally "sell 
oneself to God, to relinquish all possessions. But if this is done without love, 
what does it profit? At least for that individual, it "profits nothing." 

Thus, we see why love is necessary. Neither the demonstration of 
outstanding spiritual gifts, nor the performance of heroic religious tasks, are 
efficacious without it. It is not merely the foundation for spiritual life, but is, 
rather, the essence of spiritual life. No outward performances alone can 
substitute for it. We also are warned not to become too proud of our religious 
accomplishments, for it is apparently possible to be given great spiritual gifts, 
or achieve great things, even while lacking love. But, to know whether or not 
we measure up, we have to know what love is. 

2. 13:4-7. The Characteristics of Love 

Paul begins by describing what love in positive terms, of being patient 
and kind. The word patient is sometimes translated "longsuffering" in the A V, 
which is a literal rendering of ^aKpoOvjiei, which literally means "suffer 
long," and is used in the LXX as a description of the character of God.^^ In this 
context, it refers both to God's kindness, and his wrath. The former is 

15 



Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Cor. 13 

bestowed on Israel and is a manifestation of divine love. The latter is a 
characteristic of God's justice, and while on the one hand God is longsuffering, 
allowing people to repent, at the same time the God of Israel would not be God 
without exercising divine judgment against sin. "What it does mean is that 
alongside wrath there is a divine restraint which postpones its operation until 
something takes place ... which justifies the postponement."^" Thus, it is a 
demonstration of the character of God, as evidenced in divine goodness toward 
righteousness, and divine restraint against sin. 

The word carries much the same meaning in Paul. In Rom 9:22, we 
see the two words, patience and kindness, in close association with each other, 
along with the word for forbearance, as descriptions of the character of God, 
which are intended to lead one to repentance.^' Thus, the kind of love of which 
Paul speaks reflects the character of God. In this case, it represents the passive 
side of God's character, in that it is manifested in the holding back of divine 
wrath.^^ 

Along with patience, one finds that love is also described as "kind." 
In the LXX, it is a term mostly used with persons, and has the connotation of 
"benevolence."" In the NT, the term is applied to God, who is called "mild," 
"kind," or "helpful" in dealing with humanity, ^'* and, thus, "has a special 
reference, then, to God's act of grace effected in and through Christ."" Thus, 
just as "patience" describes a divine attribute bestowed upon the Christian, so 
"kindness" denotes how the believer shares God's character. In contrast with 
the passive connotation of "patience," however, "kindness" is God's active 
trait, and "is found in the thousandfold expressions of his mercy."^^ 

While the first two verbs describe the positive attributes of love, the 
next seven in 13:4-7 describe what love is not, and implicitly contrast the way 
of love with some of the conduct of the Corinthian church. First, love is not 
jealous. Neither is it "boastful." TiepTrepeuexai (perpereuetai)" means not 
only "boastful," but also "to act like a braggart," or "to be a windbag," and 
occurs in the NT only here.^^ In the context of 1 Cor, one is reminded of the 
Corinthian Christians' behavior described in 1:10-17 and 3:1-3, where the 
various factions boast, or brag about their various teachers. Furthermore, in 1 
Cor 4:8-13, we see the members of the Corinthian church boasting in their 
spiritual riches, which Paul contrasts with the apostolic service and poverty. 

At the same time, love is not "puffed up," or proud and arrogant 
against another person.^^ This attitude is precisely the opposite of what Paul 
warns the Corinthians about in 8:1, where "knowledge puffs up, but love 
edifies." As we saw in our discussion of 13:2, the Corinthians prided 
themselves in their spiritual knowledge. Yet, Paul warns them that it is only 
partial. Indeed, if it leads to pride, it can become dreadfully decepfive, for we 
can find ourselves extolling and being very proud of what is, in fact, something 

16 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

which is partial and temporal, rather than pursue divine love, which is eternal. 
While we pursue what may be good we may deny ourselves of what is, in fact, 
God's best for us by seeking knowledge at the price of love. In such cases, we, 
like the Corinthians, can become extremely proud. 

Love also does not behave disrespectfully or dishonorably, does not 
seek things of itself, does not become irritated, does not consider wrong, does 
not rejoice in wrong, but rejoices in truth. Love conducts itself in precisely the 
manner opposite to that which characterizes much of the Corinthian 
congregation. The confusion over the role of gifts, for example, undoubtedly 
derives fi^om the same type of attitude as the factionalism described in 1 : 1 0- 1 7, 
the desire to elevate oneself or one's group at the expense of others. At the 
same time, these characteristics are also precisely the opposite of the divine 
patience and kindness which God has shown to the Corinthians, "and the 
summons is implicit: act as God does.""" 

In contrast to the attitude of party spirit, in vs. 7 we see that, love, 
"always endures, always believes, always hopes, always remains.'"*' Implicit 
here is Paul's understanding of the person and work of Christ."*^ Yet, it is an 
understanding which also has immensely practical results. "The life that is so 
touched by the never-ceasing love of God in Christ (cf Rom. 8:39) is in turn 
enabled by the Spirit to love others in the same way. It trusts God in behalf of 
the one loved, hopes to the end that God will show mercy in that person's 
behalf.'"*^ Since love always endures, believes, hopes and remains, there is no 
room for bragging, being puffed up in pride, or seeking self advancement at the 
price of the ruin of others. Such a love is not the product of human striving or 
affection. It is only possible as God's gift through the Holy Spirit. For that 
reason, it is only when spiritual gifts are empowered by divine love that they are 
effective, for love has an eschatological dimension not found in any other 
spiritual gift or attribute, as Paul demonstrates in 13:8-13. 

3. 13:8-13. The Eternal Endurance of Love 

In verses 8-12, we find that love has an enduring quality, which 
exceeds every spiritual gift. In addition, in 13:13, we find that love is the 
greatest of the three enduring qualities, which are among those items referred 
to as the "fruits of the spirit" in Gal 5:22-23. How does love excel over the 
other two? . 

The paragraph begins with the famous phrase, "love never fails," that 
is, it never ceases, or comes to an end.'*'' In contrast, the three gifts mentioned 
will cease. The NRSV translates Paul's description of the temporal nature of 
the gifts as: "But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, 
they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end." While not as lyrical 
as that of the AV, it is an accurate reflection of the original. In staccato like 

17 



Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Cor. 13 

sequence, the contrast with love is demonstrated. The same verbis used to say 
that both knowledge and prophesying "will come to an end"."*^ Tongues will 
cease. Here the gift of prophecy, for which Paul expresses a preference in 1 Cor 
14, as well as tongues and knowledge, the two favorites of the Corinthians 
themselves,'*^ are set in contrast to the eternal nature of love. 

The reason for the contrast is found in 1 3 :9- 1 0. We know in part, and 
we prophecy only in part. Here, Paul's language is employed "to denote the 
situation of Christians in this age. There is now no perfect knowledge, no full 
exercise of the prophetic gift. Though controlled by the spirit, the earthly 
existence of the Christian stands under the sign of the partial.""^ The three 
gifts, although they are important, although they are manifestations of the Spirit 
of God, are only God's manifestation for the building of the community in this 
age which is "between times,'"*^ of Christ's first and second advents. They are 
temporal, while love bears the character of God, and will characterize the 
Christian now and in eternity. 

This temporal character is especially emphasized in vs. 10. We now 
know in part, and we prophesy in part. Yet, at the final consummation, when 
the complete, or, that to which a goal or end is directed, the final outcome,"^ has 
arrived, the partial is abolished. Gifts, therefore, by their very nature, are not 
goals in and of themselves. For, "the 'gifts,' provided they are controlled by 
love, belong to the present age ... only love can be called the 'bond of 
perfection (Col. 3:14), and it will never disappear."^" 

To emphasize his point, Paul, in 13:11-12, employs two metaphors: 
contrast between the thinking and reasoning of a child with that of an adult in 
vs. 11, and the difference between seeing a reflection in a mirror and seeing 
someone face to face in vs. 12. The comparison with a "child" in vs. 1 1 is 
reminiscent of 3:1, where the Apostle chides the Corinthians for being 
"children in Christ" on account of their factionalism. The meaning of the word 
in 3:1 connotes, "immature," or "foolish."^' By implication, Paul is contrasting 
the attitude of the Corinthians, with their excessive emphasis on outward 
manifestations and gifts rather than on character and unity" with the attitude of 
the mature Christian, in whose life the Holy Spirit operates, bestowing divine 
compassion. It is not the showy, not the dramatic, which demonstrates God's 
power and presence in an individual. Rather, one's spirituality is manifested 
in the routine actions and attitudes which may be hidden and intangible. 

In 13:1 lb, Paul further contrasts the attitude of the mature with the 
spiritually immature preoccupation with the dramatic. In the phrase, "when I 
became a man, I put end to childish things," he uses the same word employed 
in vss. 8 and 10 for the temporal nature of tongues and prophecies. While the 
gifts should not be considered merely "childish," for they are manifestations of 
God's presence, the Corinthians' attitude toward them is. It is a case of 

18 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

worshiping tiie creation instead of the Creator (see Rom 1:25), of a situation 
when seeing as through a reflection in a mirror, is confused with seeing face to 
face. 

This fact is confirmed in 13:12, when Paul contrasts our current 
situation to that which occurs at the consummation of the age. The idea is that 
is that present perception is indirect, and, therefore, imperfect." Thus, in 
1 3 : 1 2b is the contrast between now, when we know in part, and the time of the 
end, when we will know as we are known, i.e. attain to complete knowledge at 
the time of Christ's return. The contrast between the provisional nature of our 
current circumstances with that which will be made plain in the end is 
emphasized by the phrase, "in part," which utilizes the same words as found in 
13:9, where we know and prophesy "in part." Thus, as the gifts need love to 
be properly exercised, it follows that love is greater. i 

It may be said that for Paul the "fruit of the Spirit (Gal 
5:22,23) are in a class greater than "gifts of the Spirit"; and 
so the Corinthians need to cultivate such fellowship inspired 
by the spirit that the "gifts" on which they had set their hearts 
are not allowed to take to prominent a place or be valued for 
their own sake.'"* 

Paul concludes with verse 13, "But now abide faith, hope, love, these 
three things; but the greatest of these is love." Faith hope and love are the great 
Christian virtues," which operate in place of the four great Stoic virtues of 
goodness, justice, prudence and courage. The Christian triad is found 
elsewhere in Paul and the NT (see 1 Thess 1:3; 5:8; Col 1:4-5; Rom 5:3-5 [with 
"perseverance" instead offaith];Heb 6: 10- 12; 10:22-24; 1 Pet 1:3-8), but what 
is original is that here we read not that these are the Christian virtues, but that 
"the greatest of these" is love. Why is would Paul make this comparison? All 
three of these virtues are enduring. Each carries implications for the quality of 
Christian life as expectation of God's final victory.^^ Why is love the greatest? 

The answer may be that in love we see the Christian sharing in 
something which is unique to the character of God himself. Because of what 
it means to be God, God does not exercise faith, for how can he believe in 
something greater? Nor does God hope, but, is, rather, the object of our hope. 
What God does do is love, and, and, indeed, would not be God without it. To 
the extent that we love, God's own character is expressed in and through us." 
For this reason, love is the greatest of the three "virtues." 



19 



Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Cor. 13 

Conclusion 

In the midst of Paul's discussion of the spiritual gifts, he inserts this 
encomium, or high praise, to love, which is nothing less than God's gift, as 
demonstrated in Christ. It puts the gifts in their perspective, for they have their 
validity only to the extent that they lead Christians to "pursue love" (1 Cor 
14: 1 y^ In these three paragraphs we see the unique Christian understanding of 
love. When reading them, we should be humbled. How can our love ever 
measure up to the description of 1 Cor 1 3 :4-7? And how can we say that our 
love never fails? The point, of course, is that our love can never measure up 
to Paul's expectations, for he is describing something far beyond the capacity 
of mere mortals. He is summarizing the character of God, which is bestowed 
as a gift to Christians. Thus, only as we surrender ourselves to God, and allow 
the Holy Spirit to operate in us, can we ever hope to begin to demonstrate this 
kind of love. It is not an achievement, it is a gift. Yet, a gift we must claim, as 
we abandon our own arrogance and prerogatives, and embark upon, "the more 
excellent way." 

Endnotes 

' E. Best, One Body in Christ: A Study in the Relationship of the Church to Christ in 

the Epistles of the Apostle Paul (London: S.P.C.K., 1955), 102. 

^See W. Meeks, The First Urban Christians (New Haven: Yale, 1983), 90. 

^ The following discussion presupposes the unity of 1 Cor. 12-14, either as Paul's own 

composition, or as the Apostle himself inserting a pre-Pauiine tradition found in 1 Cor. 

13 to bolster his argument. For a differing point of view, see, W.O. Walker, "Is First 

Corinthians 13 a Non-Pauline Interpolation?" CBQ 60 (1998), 484-499. 

''See LSJ9, 695. epcoc;, however, also has broader meaning in patristic Greek, 

including God's love for human beings, or humans love for God. It can also be used 

as a synonym for avanri. See PGL, 550. 

'G.Stahlin, "^iXeco, ktX, " TDNT, 9:1 16, 129-136; BAGD, 859. 



''Stahlin,"4)LXea), ktX., " 1 18-123. For kiss in the N.T., see ibid., 138-145. 

'ibid., 124;G. Quell and E. Stauffer, "dYandM, ktX. , " TDNT 1 :22 

'Ibid., 23. 

^ Ibid., 27-29. 

'° This point was made most persuasively by J. Barr in Semantics of Biblical Language 

(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961; reprint, Philadelphia: Trinity Press 

International, 1991). 

"Quell and Stauffer, "dyancxco, ktX. , " 49-52 

'^Contra H. Conzelmann, / Corinthians (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975), 

2 1 7, where he states: "This chapter is a self-contained unity. The links with what goes 

before (13:31) and after ( 1 4: 1 ) are ragged." 



20 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

'■'G. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1987), 626. 

'''ibid., 627. Emphasis original. : . • 

" C.K. Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (HNTC; New 
York: Harper & Row, 1968, 301. 

'* Fee, 627-628; Barrett, 299; R. Martin, The Spirit and the Congregation (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 41-2; G. Johnston, "Love in the NT," IDB, 3:174. 
Conzelmann, 218. Conzelmann's analysis varies slightly from Fee and Barrett in that 
he assigns vs. 13 to its own, independent, section. Martin describes vs. 13 as, "a 
statement of the hymn's thesis with a concluding coda." Likewise, W. Klassen, "Love 
(NT and Early Jewish)" ABD 4:393, divides 1 Cor. 13 thus: 13:1-3, 4-7, 8-12, where 
13:13 "points to the eschatological dimension of Paul's view of love." 
'^£:k ijspoug ( ek merous ), meaning individually, see BAGD 506. 
'* Conzelmann, 216. 
'^Martin, 43. 

^° Conzelmann, 221 ; Fee, 633. Klassen, "Love," 393 states that the clashing cymbal or 
noisy brass is "perhaps reminiscent of the clashing cymbals of Cybele's procession 
conducted by priests, who were, along with poets dubbed "drums and cymbals of self- 
advertisement." 
^'ibid., 632-3; Barrett, 301. 
^^ Barrett, 30 1 ; see Martin, 44. 
^^ Fee, 632, n. 32 
^^See Martin, 45. 

^^The likely meaning of ^jmij l i^q, see BAGD 894. 

^^ Kavxriooiaa l ( kauchesomai ), supported by, P46, \ , A, B, D, F, G, 048 and 
several miniscules; or KavGriaopa l (kauthesomai), supported by C, D, F, G, L and 
several miniscules. 

"Barrett, 301, Fee, 634, Conzelmann, 222, Martin, 45, Klassen, "Love," 393 
^^ Martin, 45; Klassen, "Love," "The case of self-immolation had numerous antecedents 
and was a standard illustration of the time. 

^^■J. Horst, "paKpoevyia, ktX. " TDNT 4:376-9. .,• 

^°Ibid., 377. 
^' Ibid., 382. 
^^ Fee, 636. 
"K. Weiss, "xPnoTog, ktX. , " TDNT, 9:485. .:, 



Ibid., 487. 
Ibid., 488. 



35. 
36 

^^nEpeprueia l ( perereuetai ), often translated, "boastful. 

38 
39 



Fee, 636-7. 
BAGD, 653. 



(puo L ouia L ( physioutai) , see BAGD, 869. 
^° Martin, 50. 

'" ndvia (panta ), in an adverbial sense, meaning "always," see Martin, 51. 
^^ Klassen, "Love", 393. 
^^ Fee, 640. 



21 



Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Cor. 13 

^^ W. Michaelis, "ninTu, ktA., " TDNT, 6:165. 

"*" KaiapYsw (katargeo), in the aorist passive future. 

^^ Fee, 643, 

^^J. Schneider, "uspog," TDNT, 4:596. 

'^ Fee, 643. 



BAGD, 811. 



'"Martin, 54. 

^' G. Bertram, "vrin tog, " TDNT, 4:912; cf BAGD 537. J. C. Hurd, The Origin of 

1 Corinthians (2nd ed. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1983), 108-113, 

although, he is too restrictive in saying that Paul is specifically comparing the 

Corinthians' concern with glossolalia to "babbling babies" (112-113, 189). Rather, 

their whole behavior, including their factionalism, would show them to be speaking as 

"children." 

"Bertram, 917; Martin, 54. 

"Fee, 648; Conzelmann, 228; Barrett, 309. 

^'' Martin, 54. 

^^ Ibid., 55. 

^^Klassen, "Love (NT and Early Jewish)," 393. ;. 

" Barrett, 311 

^^Hurd, 189-190. 



ABD 

AV 

BAGD 



CBQ 
HNTC 
IDB 
LSJ9 

Ms 

NT 

NRSV 

OT 

PGL 

TDNT 



Lev 



Abbreviations 

Anchor Bible Dictionary 

Authorized (i.e. King James) Version 

Bauer, Walter, A Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament and 

Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed. Translated by William F. 

Amdt, F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: 

University of Chicago Press, 1979. 

Catholic Biblical Quarterly 

Harpers New Testament Commentaries 

Interpreter 's Dictionary of the Bible 

Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott, A Greek English Lexicon. 

Rev. by Henry Sturart Jones. 9th ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. 

Manuscript 

New Testament 

New Revised Standard Version 

Old Testament 

Lampe, G.W.H. A Patristic Greek Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 

1961. 

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament 

Abbreviations of Biblical and Extra Biblical References 
Old Testament 

Leviticus 



Col 



Colossians 



New Testament 



22 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (l 999) 



1 Cor 


1 Corinthians 




Gal 


Galatians 




Mk 


Mark 




Mt 


Matthew 




Rom 


Romans 




1 Thess 


1 Thessalonians 


Apocrypha 


2 Mace 


2 Maccabbees 




4 Mace 


4 Maccabbees 


Church Fathers 



Did Didache 

Works Cited 

Barr, James, The Semantics of Biblical Language. Oxford: Oxford 

University Press, 1961, reprint, Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 
1991. 

Barrett, C.K. A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians. HNTC; 
New York: Harper and Row, 1968 

Bauer, Walter, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other 
Early Christian Literature, 2nd. ed. Translated by William F. 
Amdt, F. William Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1979. 

Bertram, Georg, ''vfinoc^," in Theological Dictionary of the New 
Testament, 4:9\2-935 

Best, Ernest, One Body in Christ: A Study in the Relationship of the 

Church to Christ in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. London: 
S.P.C.K., 1955 

Conzelmann, Hans, 1 Corinthians. Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortresss, 
1975. 



23 



Gifts in the Context of Love: Reflections on 1 Cor. 13 

Fee, Gordon, The First Epistle to the Corinthians. NICNT. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1987. 

Horst, Johannes, "|aaKpo6v|i la, ktX." in Theological Dictionary of the 
New Testament, 4:374-387 

Hurd, James, The Origin of 1 Corinthians. 2nd ed. Macon, GA: Mercer 
University Press, 1983. 

Johnston, G. "Love in the NT," in Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, 
3:168-178. . ,<,,. 

Klassen, W. "Love (NT and Early Jewish)," in Anchor Bible Dictionary, 
4:381-396. 

Lampe, G. W. H. A Patristic Greek Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 
1961. 

Liddeli, Henry George and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Rev. by 
Henry Stuart Jones, 9th ed. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996. 

Martin, Ralph, The Spirit and the Congregation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1984. 

Meeks, Wayne, The First Urban Christians. New Haven: Yale, 1983. 

Michaelis, Wilhelm, "n [ ni co , kt X . " in Theological Dictionary of the 
New Testament, 6.\6\-\73. 

Quell, Gottfried and Ethelbert Stauffer, "ayandco, kiX. " in Theological 
Dictionary of the New Testament, 1 :21-55. 

Schneider, Johannes, "pspog," in Theological Dictionary of the New 
Testament, 4:594-598. 

Stahlin, Gustav, "(t)iAea) , ktX . " in Theological Dictionary of the New 
Testament, 9:\\3-\7\. 

Walker, William O. "Is First Corinthians 13 a Non-Pauline Interpolation?" 
Cfig (1998), 484-499. 

Weiss, Konrad, "xphot 6q , kt X . " in Theological Dictionary of the New 
Testament, 9:483-492. 



24 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

A PLEA FOR HOLY FELLOWSHIP 
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-7:1 

by Victoria A. Wheeler* 

Corinth, in Paul's day, was the heart of Greece, surpassing Athens 
both as the economic center of trade and as the political capital. Situated on a 
narrow isthmus between two major trade harbors, one leading west to Italy and 
the other south east to Asia, this Greco-Roman city became a wealthy hub in 
the merchandise trade along the northern Mediterranean. The Isthmian Games 
also drew in considerable revenue, as did the prostitution cult surrounding the 
Temple of Aphrodite, which at one time included a thousand male and female 
temple slaves.' 

Paul arrived in Corinth during his second missionary journey (c. AD 
50-5 1). His itinerary took him first to the local synagogue, which in Corinth 
was located along the Lechaion Road, below the Acrocorinth. He met up with 
two Jewish converts to Christianity from Rome, Aquila and Priscilla, with 
whom he lived and worked as a tent maker during his extended eighteen month 
stint there. Beginning with Jews, and then turning to Gentiles, Paul saw several 
prominent people come to Christ: Crispus, the synagogue leader; Gaius, host 
to the Corinthian house church and to Paul on his second visit there; and 
Erastus, the city treasurer, who later accompanied Timothy to Ephesus. 

While living with the people in Corinth, Paul established roots which 
grew into a deep concern for their steadfastness in the Lord. This regard 
prompted his letters to them which he wrote during his third missionary 
journey, the first written probably in Ephesus (c. AD 54-55), and the second 
from Macedonia (c. AD 55-56), just weeks before his second visit there. The 
Corinthian correspondence portrays both a cosmopolitan, urban church caught 
in the tension between holy living in a world of immorality and political and 
economic snares, and also Paul, who opens himself up to expose the nature of 
a true apostle (i.e. father, teacher, model), establishing his right to be involved 
in, and offer practical and theological guidance to, this community of believers. 

Just how many letters are encompassed within this literary corpus to 
the church at Corinth is debatable. 1 Cor 5:9 suggests a previous letter was 
written, which now is lost. 2 Cor 2:4 speaks of a letter written with "many 
tears," the existence of which cannot be determined. The uneven nature of 2 
Corinthians might intimate that it is actually a compilation of several letters, 
perhaps made up of a) 6:14-7:1, now only a fragment; b) chapters 1-9, 
excluding the previous verses; and c) chapters 10-13.^ Regardless of their 
quantity, the quality of the letters speaks to a deeply personal and lively 

* Victoria Wheeler is an MA (Biblical and Theological Studies) student at ATS. 

25 



A Plea for Holy Fellowship: 2 Cor. 6: 14-7:1 

association between the community and Paul, who, even in his absence, 
remained connected to those whom he considered his spiritual children. 

That 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 could be an extant fragment of another 
letter cannot be proved. Yet some scholars believe it can stand alone, either as 
a rhetorical digression or as an independent text (either from Paul or another 
source), imported into the epistle (perhaps by the author or a later redactor). 

Fitzmyer makes an interesting argument for the passage originating 
with the Qumran Essene sect.^ He claims the unit, containing considerable 
hapax legomena vocabulary, does not fit in the context of Paul's plea for 
reconciliation, and is devoid of any clues that it relates to any problem within 
the Corinthian church, specifically. Most importantly, Fitzmyer claims several 
features of the passage have a significant Qumran background, and he believes 
it to be a Christian reworking of Essene expressions. 

Witherington, citing Quintillian, convincingly argues the passage is a 
digression (egressio), a common rhetorical device." Marked by an increased 
zeal, a digression functions within the context of a personal defense against 
opponents, and appeals to religion, duty, or historical events to admonish the 
audience's future behavior. Witherington goes on to point out that the syntax 
of the immediate context would be somewhat redundant without the digression. 
He claims the style is Pauline, and the material can be sufficiently traced to 
parallel passages in the first six chapters of the letter. In addition, the allusion 
in 6: 11 and 14ff to Deut 11:16 makes a clear connection between the passage 
and its context, by linking "open hearts" and "idols." 

Whether Paul was inspired from Essene concepts is not the focus here. 
Rather, considering the passage to be original to him, the discussion now will 
look at the structure. Following Witherington 's argument, the immediate 
context of the passage (i.e. 6:11-13 and 7:2-4) would appear to form a chiasm, 
creating a singular setting for the passage. 
6:11a "Our mouth has spoken freely to you" 
6:11b "Our heart is open wide" 

6:12 Paul has not restrained the Corinthians 
6:13 "Open wide to us also" 
7:2a "Make room for us" 

7:2b-3a Paul has not wronged, nor condemned them 
7:3b "You are in our hearts" 
7:4 "Great is my boasting on your behalf 

The tight structure and use of rhetorical coupling and parallelism 
makes this passage, at the heart of Paul's second letter to the Corinthian church, 
a strong plea to holy fellowship. True reconciliation with each other, the main 
theme of Paul's letter, is only possible if the parties involved are brought 
together into right relationship with Christ. For Christians, that means 

26 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 {\ 999) 

exposing and putting off every form of partnering that threatens the covenant 
community with a holy God, and is discordant with a life wholly consecrated 
to Him. 

6: 14-1 6a The passage opens with a present imperative verb (me 
ginesthe), which may imply the Corinthians are already working together in 
some manner with unbelievers. The verb root is similar to that used in Phil 
2:25 and 4:3 to describe Paul's fellow workers of the Gospel. The unbelievers, 
or unfaithful, are those who have been blinded by the god of this world, leaving 
them in darkness, and unable to see the light of the Gospel (2 Cor 4:4). 

A series of rhetorical questions underscore the separation and thus the 
inherent impossibility of any form of mutuality between the believer (in Christ) 
and the unbeliever. Each coupling expresses concepts in opposition to each 
other: righteousness and lawlessness (also Rom 6:19), light and darkness, 
Christ and Beliar (Satan), believers and unbelievers, the temple of God and 
idols (false gods). The questions are structurally unified by the alliteration of 
the tis - e tis combination, and culminate in the aurally similar, yet distinct, 
hemeis, (further emphasized by the postpositive), which sets off the phrase, 
"but we are the living temple of God." 

Righteousness and the Law are related in regard to sin. Sin is what 
separates and makes fellowship impossible. The Law makes one aware of sin, 
but does not render sin powerless. For Paul, the only way for partnering within 
right relationships was a righteousness beyond the Law, found solely through 
faith in Christ, Certainly then, those who are lawless do not even have the 
benefit of the knowledge of sin which would come with the Law, Thus, the 
righteous and the lawless stand separated by the unbridgeable chasm of the 
ignorance of sin. 

The relation of light to darkness could be associated with creation.^ 
But, since both are created and declared good, this could lead to confusion here. 
Paul speaks metaphorically when he relates light and darkness with the glory 
of God and knowledge versus paganism (2 Cor 4:4-6), guidance for the blind, 
the strength of armor against the sinful deeds of weak flesh (Rom 2: 1 9f; 1 3 : 1 2), 
and the disclosure of things hidden (1 Cor 4:5). 

One of the numerous hapax legomena of this passage is Beliar, an OT 
word meaning death, or worthlessness (Ps 18:4). The MT vowel pointing 
renders a word meaning "without" {b'li) "profit" {ya 'al). The Hebrew root bala 
means "swallow up" or "engulf," and would then produce the name Sheol, or 
Engulfer. The word became the personification of such (i.e. Satan, the devil) 
in the writings of the intertestamental period and the NT.^ Here, the one who 
devours is juxtaposed with the One who is life, Christ. Paul then contrasts the 
one who believes in Christ with the unbeliever. 



27 



A Plea for Holy Fellowship: 2 Cor. 6: 1 4-7: 1 

The final comparison is between the temple of God and idols. God's 
dwelling place within the temple in Jerusalem was the Holy of Holies, the 
innermost part of the temple which contained no statue or replica of God. The 
presence of the Creator God is dynamic, rather than static; unlike the false 
gods, whose resemblance could be portrayed by something created, set in a 
shrine. For Paul, the body of believers, corporately as well as individually, 
comprised the dwelling place of God (1 Cor 3:16f; 6:19; Eph 2:20). 
Translators have used the adjective zontos as a modifier for God (i.e. "living 
God"), but that seems redundant, not to mention grammatically unsound. The 
focus is on the vibrant fellowship believers share in common in Christ; thus 
"we are the living temple of God." 

The fiow of the rhetorical questions also highlights some similarities. 
The binding together of believers is defined as a partnership, a fellowship, a 
harmonizing (or, mutual consent; as in 1 Cor 7:5), a sharing in common, and 
an agreement. In addition, that which binds them together is marked by 
righteousness, light, belief or faith, and being a living temple. At the center of 
the chiasm is Christ, the heart of their mutuality. The opposite is also 
presented, with Beliar (Satan) at the heart of that which Paul defines as 
lawlessness, darkness, unbelief, and idolatry. Thus, in contrast to the lifeless 
unbeliever, who is ignorant to sin, engulfed by darkness which renders sight 
impossible, and who wastes life for a carved piece of wood or metal, against 
that stand the believers with their minds and hearts opened to the glory of God, 
portrayed as a magnificent, living, breathing dwelling place for God. What 
companionship could there ever be between the two? 

Paul does not leave the argument to rest on his words alone, but draws 
on the scriptural (i.e. OT) promises of God, from which he makes his case. If 
reconciliation is to be found, it must be grounded in having been formed 
together into a unified community by the Lord. This community is presented 
here as God with his chosen people, and also as a father with his children. 
These benign scenes of nurture and protection are possible only if both parties 
do their parts. The divine promises require human responsibility. 

6:16b- 18 The concept ofGod making his dwelling among humanity, 
a plan which has been unfolding throughout history, can be traced through the 
Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.^ God first establishes a covenant "to be 
God" to Abraham and his descendants (Gen 17:7), which expands to being the 
God of all Israel, thus enabling them to know YHWH, but not yet to be his 
people (Ex 6:7). To the exiles, God declares he will make his dwelling place 
among them, and he will be their God and they will be his people (Ez 37:27). 
With the coming of Christ, the first part of that promise becomes a reality (Jn 
1:14). By faith it becomes actualized in one's heart (Eph 3:17). And with the 
new heaven and earth, the promise will become sight (Rev 21 :3). 

28 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

A holy God requires a holy people. God has made his home among 
his people, but there are demands he places upon humans in order to make them 
an acceptable dwelling place. They are physically to separate themselves from 
those pagans with whom they have lived, and not to touch any unclean thing or 
person (i.e. anything which has no relationship with God). The original 
message, spoken to the remnant in Babylonian exile (Is 52:11), is still 
appropriate to those believers living among their pagan neighbors in Corinth. 

A final phrase from Isaiah is omitted here, explaining that they were 
not to touch what is unclean because they were responsible for carrying sacred 
items. This was clear to Paul when he stated he was called out and set apart for 
the sake of the Gospel (Rom 1:1). Here, the imperative form of the verb 
aphoristhete,^ "be set apart," is aorist passive, and could imply that God has 
done the appointing, the setting apart, perhaps even before birth (Gal 1:15), and 
one merely receives it. Then consecration would involve both a divine 
ordaining, as well as an acceptance of the calling. Still, to be accepted, 
welcomed, received by a holy God, it is imperative to make a lifestyle choice 
that would remove oneself from one's former way of life, no longer handling 
those things which have no place in the life of one who is divinely appointed 
for service. The purification speaks both to activities ("come out from their 
midsf ; "do not take hold of), and mindset ("be set apart"). 

The essence of the first promise is paralleled, but now with the more 
personal twist of God being a father and his audience being his children. The 
original was a sign of God's faithfulness, a fulfillment of the Davidic covenant 
(2 Sam 7:14), and would have had, for a strong patriarchal society, a sense of 
authority and power, as well as nurture and protection. Perhaps Paul is alluding 
to an earlier declaration of having become himself a father to the Corinthians 
(1 Cor 4:15), thus making a plea for them to be as his children, that is, a plea 
for reconciliation. 

Adding to this, Paul builds in a concept from Joel 2:28-32, that in the 
end times God will cross gender barriers, and pour out his Spirit on sons and 
daughters. Paul had already written elsewhere that in Christ all are one (Gal 
3:28), and no separation should hinder their fellowship. Perhaps this is a 
special plea to women in the Corinthian church offended by Paul's charge in 
his first letter that they keep silent in their meetings (1 Cor 14:34f). 

Finally, the entire working of God's promises from the OT passages 
is punctuated by a threefold reminder (vv. 16, 17, 18) that it is God who 
originally spoke and desires holy fellowship. For his part, Paul is only acting 
as his free-speaking mouthpiece (v. 11).'' The three phrases function as an 
inclusio and also a focal point at the center of the quotations, and serve to 
underscore the authority Paul has to address them. 



29 



A Plea for Holy Fellowship: 2 Cor. 6: 14-7:1 

Paul makes one last appeal to the Corinthians using all his rhetorical 
tools: reason (logos), emotion (pathos), and goodwill (ethos).^° The logical 
conclusion to these promises is to do what God requires in order to appropriate 
them. Paul's use of agapetoi is an address of endearment. This is followed by 
the hortatory subjunctive in the first person plural; Paul is including himself 
with his audience in this call to purify themselves from anything that defiles 
body and soul. For Paul, the term sarx usually means the flesh nature, 
something to be put off because of its proclivity to sin. But here there is a 
sense of the whole person, one's essence and activities. This, juxtaposed with 
the participle "perfecting holiness," suggests that both the physical and spiritual 
are necessary components in working out one's salvation (with fear and 
trembling, Phil 2:12). There is a mutuality between the two, so that what 
happens bodily has consequences for the soul and what takes place in the 
spiritual realm effects the physical. The dual participles, "having the promises" 
and perfecting holiness," underscore this mutuality: God's work/promises, and 
our work/consecration to him. 

That which deadens and divides is sin. Participation in anything that 
has no relationship with God threatens to corrupt the body as well as the soul. 
Paul provides guidelines, principles, and a way of thinking, rather than 
solutions or rules. The hearers and readers of his letters must work with his 
words to determine how they shall be interpreted and applied to daily life. 

God's plan throughout history has been to reconcile humanity to 
himself, that both might share in holy fellowship. There is a harmonious unity 
that can be found in Christ. But partnering with him will cost everything that 
smacks of self-promotion, which always comes at the expense of others. This 
unity happens when each considers the need of others before his or her own. 
For it is not just my own defilement that is my concern, but that of by brothers 
and sisters. That living temple is only as strong is its weakest stone. We 
receive God's promises collectively, and we purify ourselves, perfecting 
holiness together as one body. When we see our relationship to God clearly, 
that is as siblings of a divine father, we cannot help but see ourselves (i.e. our 
attraction to the things of the world), and our interrelatedness (for better or 
worse) more clearly. Those grudges we might hold against each other or those 
secret sins, we think they might effect no one but ourselves. But if they are 
harmful to one, they are harmful for all and should be left behind, that in the 
light of truth and love we might edify each other, and serve our heavenly 
Father. 

Endnotes 

' John Moray, Archaeology and the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1 99 1 ), 3 1 5. 
^ Larry Kreitzer, 2 Corinthians (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 35. The 



30 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

author argues for these five letters. 

^ Joseph Fitzmyer, "Qumran and the Interpolation Paragraph in 2 Cor 6:14-7:1," 

Catholic Biblical Quarterly 23 (1961), 271-80. The author claims the following are 

particular literary devices stemming from the Qumran community: 1 ) triple dualism; 2) 

the opposition to idols; 3) the community as the Holy of Holies; 4) separation from all 

impurity; 5) the idea of the "lof of God's chosen people; 6) the stringing together of OT 

texts around a theme to form atestimonia (e.g. Rom 3:10-18; 9:25-29; 10:15-21; 1 1:8- 

10; 15:9-12). 

"* Ben Witherington 111, Conflict and Community in Corinth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 

1995), 402f 

' Gerhard Kittel, ed.. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. Vll, trans. 

Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967; reprint 1973), 442. 

*■ J.D. Douglas, ed.. New Bible Dictionary 2d ed. (Downer's Grove: InterVarsity, 1982; 

reprint 1996), s.v. Belial by D.F. Payne. 

' Simon J. Kistemaker, II Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997), 23 If 

** In the (MT) Hebrew (from Isaiah 52) the same verb, hibaru, is a Ni'fal imperative and 

has a reflexive meaning, "purify yourselves." The OT concept of purification addresses 

both the condition of the heart, or intention, as well as the hands, or ethical acts. Both 

are necessary, with inner purity and outward purity being mutual expressions of each 

other. Johannes G. Botterweck and HelmerRinggren, Theological Dictionary of the Old 

Testament, vol 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 311. The mutual reciprocity of 

covenant may also be implied here (both words come from the same root, bar), with 

both parties responsible to and benefitting from the inward and outward purification of 

God's chosen people. 

'^ The third reference to divine authorship addresses God as Lord Almighty {kurios 

pantokrator), a singular combination of titles (Hebrew would read YHWH Shaddai) 

which appears nowhere else in the Bible. 

'° For further reading on rhetorical analysis see Rodney K. Duke, The Persuasive Appeal 

of the Chronicler: A Rhetorical Analysis (Sheffield: Almond Press, 1990); also Martin 

Warner, ed. The Bible as Rhetoric: Studies in Biblical Persuasion and Credibility 

(London: Routledge, 1990). 



31 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

Patronage and Reciprocity: 
The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

David A. deSilva* 

The term "patronage" refers to a system in which access to goods, 
positions, or services is enjoyed by means of personal relationships and the 
exchanging of "favors" rather than by impersonal and impartial systems of 
distribution. People in the United States and Northern Europe may be 
culturally conditioned to find the concept of patronage distasteful at first, and 
not at all a suitable metaphor for talking about God's relationship to us. When 
we say "it's not what you know but whom you know," it is usually because we 
sense someone has had an unfair advantage over us or over the friend whom we 
console with these words. It violates our conviction that everyone should have 
equal access to employment opportunities (being evaluated on the basis of 
pertinent skills rather than personal connection) or to services offered by 
private businesses or civic agencies. ' Where patronage occurs (often deridingly 
called nepotism: channeling opportunities to relations or personal friends), it 
is often done "under the table" and kept as quiet as possible.' 

We tend to get what we need or want by means of buying and selling, 
where exchange is precisely measured out ahead of time. You do not leave a 
department store owing the sales person a favor, nor does the cashier at a 
restaurant owe me a good turn for the money I gave after dinner. When we 
seek employment, most often we are hired on the basis of our skills and 
experience by people we do not know. We prepare for employment not so 
much by cultivating "connections" (although this is still useful!) as by 
equipping ourselves with the knowledge and skills that, we hope, a potential 
employer will recognize as giving us the necessary resources to do the job well. 
When we fall into hard times, there is a massive public welfare system in place, 
access to which is offered not as a personal favor but as a bureaucratized 
"righf of the poor or unemployed. If an alien wants citizenship and the rights 
that go along with it, he or she applies and undergoes the same process as every 
other naturalized citizen — it is not a favor granted personally by an individual 
in power. 

The world of the authors and readers of the New Testament, however, 
was a world in which personal patronage was an essential means of acquiring 
access to goods, protection, or opportunities for employment and advancement. 
Not only was it essential — it was expected and publicized! The giving and 

* David deSilva (Ph.D. Emory University) is Associate Professor of New 
Testament and Greek at ATS. 



32 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1 999) 

receiving of favors was, according to a first-century participant, the "practice 
that constitutes the chief bond of human society" (Seneca, De beneficiis 1 .4.2). 
To enter their world and hear their words more authentically, we have to leave 
behind our cultural norms and ways of doing things and learn a quite different 
way of managing resources and meeting needs. 

Patronage and Friendship 

For everyday needs there was the market, in which buying and selling 
provided access to daily necessities; for anything outside of the ordinary, one 
sought out the person who possessed or controlled access to what one needed, 
and received what one needed as a "favor." The ancient world from the 
classical through the Roman periods was one of greatly limited access to goods. 
The greater part of the property, wealth, and power was concentrated into the 
hands of the few, and access to these goods was through personal connection 
rather than bureaucratic channels. The kinds of benefits sought from patrons 
depended on the need or desires of the petitioner: they might include plots of 
land or distributions of money to get started in business or to supply food after 
a crop failure or failed business venture, protection, debt relief, or an 
appointment to some office or position in government. "Help one person with 
money, another with credit, another with influence, another with advice, 
another with sound precepts" (Seneca, Ben. 1 .2.4; LCL). If the patron granted 
the petition, the petitioner would become the client of the patron and a 
potentially long-term relationship would begin. ^ This relationship would be 
marked by the mutual exchange of desired goods and services, the patron being 
available for assistance in the future, the client doing everything in his or her 
power to enhance the fame and honor of the patron (publicizing the benefit and 
showing the patron respect), remaining loyal to the patron, and providing 
services whenever the opportunity arose. 

Sometimes the most important gift a patron could give was access to 
(and influence with) another patron who actually had power over the benefit 
being sought. For the sake of clarity, a patron who provides access to another 
patron for his or her client has been called a "broker"'' (a classical term for this 
was "mediator"). Brokerage was commonplace and expected in public life. 
Sophocles {Oedipus Tyrannus 11\-11A) provides a fictional example of this in 
the words of Creon in his defense against Oedipus' charge of conspiracy to 
usurp the kingship: 

I am welcome everywhere; every man salutes me. 

And those who want your favor seek my ear. 

Since I know how to manage what they ask. 
Creon enjoys high esteem and displays of public reputation on the basis of his 
ability to grant or withhold his single resource: access to King Oedipus and thus 

33 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

to royal favors. 

Numerous examples of brokerage can be found in the letters of Cicero, 
Pliny the Younger, and Fronto, correspondence providing windows into public 
policy from the late Republic through the second century of the Empire.^ 
Pliny's letters to the emperor Trajan (dating from 111-1 13 AD, the time during 
which Pliny was governor of Bithynia) contain attempts by Pliny to procure 
imperial favors for his own friends and clients. In one such letter {Ep. 10.4), 
Pliny introduces a client of his, named Voconius Romanus, to Trajan with a 
view to getting Voconius a senatorial appointment. He addresses Trajan clearly 
as a client addressing his patron, and proceeds to ask a favor for Voconius. 
Pliny offers his own character as a guarantee of his client's character, and 
Trajan's "'favorable judgemenf of Pliny (not Voconius, whom he does not 
know) would become the basis for Trajan's granting of this favor. Should the 
favor be granted by the emperor, Voconius would be indebted not only to 
Trajan but also to Pliny, who will, in turn, be indebted further to Trajan.^ The 
broker, or mediator, at the same time incurs a debt and increases his own honor 
through the indebtedness of his or her client. Brokerage — the gift of access 
to another, often greater, patron — was in itself a highly valued benefit. 
Without such connections, the client would never have had access to what he 
or she desired or needed. This is especially apparent in the case of Pliny's 
physical therapist, Arpocras, who gains both Roman and Alexandrian 
citizenship by means of Pliny, who petitions Trajan on his behalf (£p. 10.5-7, 
10). Pliny gives this local physician access to the emperor, the fount of 
patronage, which he would never have enjoyed otherwise. Brokerage could 
even intervene in the judicial process. Both Cicero^ and Marcus Aurelius {Ad 
M. Caes. 3.2) use their connections of friendship with a judge to secure 
favorable outcomes for their clients, on whose behalf they write. 

So far we have been discussing personal patronage as it occurred 
between people of unequal social status: someone of lesser power, honor, and 
wealth seeks out the aid of a person of superior power, honor, and wealth. The 
kinds of benefits exchanged between such people will be different in kind and 
quality, the patron providing material gifts or opportunities for advancement, 
the client contributing to the patron's reputation and power base. Relationships 
of reciprocity also occur between social equals, people of like means who can 
exchange like resources, neither one being seen by the other or by society as the 
inferior of the other. Such relationships went by the name of "friendship."^ 
The basic ethos undergirding this relationship, however, is no different from 
that of the relationship of patrons and clients: the same principal of reciprocity 
and mutual fidelity is the bedrock of both. Moreover, because patrons were 
sensitive to the honor of their clients, they rarely called their clients by that 
name. Instead, they "graciously" referred to them as "friends," even though 

34 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

they were far from social equals. Clients, on the whole, did not attempt to hide 
their junior status, referring to their patrons as "patrons" rather than as 
"friends" so as to highlight the honor and respect with which they esteemed 
their benefactors.'' Where we see people called "friends" or "partners," 
therefore, we should suspect that we are still looking at relationships of 
reciprocity. 

Patronage among the Poor 

The greater part of the ancient population has left no written legacy for 
us to study. Observation of modem agrarian societies leads scholars to believe 
that all classes participated, in their own ways, in forming relationships of 
reciprocity. One such cultural anthropologist, Julian Pitt-Rivers, studied the 
rural communities of Southern France, '° noting that neighbors are always ready 
to help one another at harvest or sheep-shearing time, not for money or for 
specific returns. While the helper would even publicly deny that he has placed 
the helped party under obligation, should the latter refuse to help others it 
would be remembered and become a blot on that farmer's reputation as a "good 
neighbor": 

Great prestige attaches to a good reputation as a neighbor. , ; , 
Everyone would like to be in credit with everybody and those 
who show reluctance to lend a hand when they are asked to 
do so soon acquire a bad reputation which is commented on 
by innuendo. Those who fail to return the favor done to 
them come to be excluded from the system altogether. Those 
of good repute can be sure of compliance on all sides." 
Even in the rural areas, there are those who do more favors than receive favors, 
and these become local patrons of a sort. This situation bears remarkable 
resemblance to the discussion of reciprocity among farmers in Hesiod's Works 
and Days, written in the sixth century BC.'~ 

Pitt-Rivers advances another motive for helping when help is needed, 
and that is "insurance" against the time when one might, oneself, rely on the 
neighbors to get through a difficult crisis, to which "a single family farm is 
particularly vulnerable."''' Seneca had seen this as an essential aspect of the 
system of reciprocity two millennia before: "how else do we live in security if 
it is not that we help each other by an exchange of good offices? It is only 
through the interchange of benefits that life becomes in some measure equipped 
and fortified against sudden disasters. Take us singly, and what are we? The 
prey of all creatures...." {Ben. 4.18.1). We may conclude then, that those who 
left us no direct testimony — namely peasant farmers and local artisans — also 
entered into relationships of reciprocity and sought to fulfill their part of the 
relationship nobly as the means both to local honor and security. 

35 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

Public Benefaction 

Personal patronage was not the only form of beneficence in the ancient 
world. Most public entertainments, whether religious festivals and feasts or 
local athletic competitions, were "given" to the inhabitants of the city by 
wealthy benefactors. Moreover, most civic improvements, whether temples or 
theaters, pavements or porticoes, were also the gifts either local elites or 
wealthy persons abroad who wished to confer benefits on a famous city (as 
Herod the Great provided the money for buildings not only in Jerusalem but 
also Rhodes, Athens, and Sparta).''' In times of crisis, wealthy benefactors 
would come to the aid of the public, providing, for example, famine or disaster 
relief. Public benefaction was an arena open to both men and women of 
means.'' 

Such public gifts did not make every recipient a "client" of the 
benefactor,"' for lines were drawn between personal patronage and public 
munificence, but the public as a whole was nevertheless still indebted to that 
benefactor.'^ In general, the response of the grateful city would consist of the 
conferral of public honors (like crowning at a prominent public festival, special 
seating at games) and the provision for a permanent commemoration of the 
generosity of the giver in the form of honorary inscriptions or, in special cases, 
statues. Inscriptions across the Mediterranean from North Africa to Greece, 
Asia and Egypt bear witness to the phenomenon of both personal patronage and 
public benefaction.'* 

The most powerful figures in the ancient world, namely kings and 
emperors, frequently granted public benefactions to cities or even whole 
provinces in addition to the numerous personal benefactions by which they 
bound to themselves their client base. Relief from oppression, whether from 
an extortionate local official, from pirates on the sea, or from a hostile force 
from outside would be a benefaction especially well-suited for an emperor to 
give. Pardon for crimes committed was also reserved for kings and emperors, 
who were also credited with doing the broad public a great service if peace and 
stability characterized their rule. The extreme form of response to benefactions 
from rulers was the offering of worship. Those who gave gifts usually 
besought from the gods were judged to be worthy of the honors offered the 
gods. When the Athenians greeted their general, Demetrius Poliorketes, who 
had just freed them from foreign domination in 307 BC, they used cultic 
language: "other deities are far away, or have no ears, or are not, or have no 
care for us at all: but you we see here present — not shaped by wood or stone 
but in reality. And so to you we pray: First bring us peace, for you possess the 
power."'^ 

A similar picture emerges from Nicolaus of Damascus' first-hand 
observations concerning the origin of the cult of Augustus: "all people address 

36 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

him [as Augustus] in accordance with their estimation of his honor, revering 
him with temples and sacrifices across islands and continents, organized in 
cities and provinces, matching the greatness of his virtue and repaying his 
benefactions towards them."~° The "peace of Augustus" was viewed as relief 
of divine proportions, and the return of thanks must be equal to the gift. 
Augustus thus succeeded in the East to the tradition of according divine honors 
to benefactors, generals, and, during the Roman Republic, governors. The 
imperial cult also provided people in the province with a bridge of access to 
their ultimate patron. Provinces sought imperial aid (benefactions) through the 
mediation of the priests of the imperial cult, who both officiated in the 
province, and became the official ambassadors to Rome on behalf of the 
province. Sending the priests of imperial cultic honors to Rome put the 
province in the most positive light. The priest was an image of the province's 
uncompromising loyalty and gratitude, so that the province could be assured for 
ongoing favor. 

Patronage in Greek and Roman Settings 

Patronage is not strictly a Roman phenomenon, even though our 
richest discussions of the institution were written by Romans (Cicero in De 
officiis and Seneca in De beneficiis). Both public benefaction and personal 
patronage are well-attested in both Greek and Roman cultures. Only during the 
time of the Athenian democracy is there an attempt to move away from 
patronage as the basic model for structuring society."' From before the 
Democratic Revolution of 462 BC, we have the example of Cimon of Athens, 
whose provision of personal patronage to needy suppliants as well as gifts to 
the city in general win him the status of "first citizen" and result in his 
"election" to the generalship for seventeen consecutive years.'" Throughout the 
period of the democracy itself, the avoidance of open patronage applied only 
between citizens, whose freedom should not be compromised out of a need to 
gratify a potential or past benefactor. The non-citizens (called "metics," or 
"resident aliens") were required io have a sponsor or patron (a prostates) who 
would provide access to the institutions of the city for the non-citizen."^ 

By the time that Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander, rise to 
prominence, however, personal patronage is once again openly spoken of in 
Athens. Demosthenes, an orator who died in 322 BC, speaks openly both of 
his public benefactions (fortification of the city walls), which he deems worthy 
of gratitude and public honor, and his private acts of patronage to the distressed 
and financially challenged (De corona 268-69, 299). Aristotle speaks in his 
Nicomachian Ethics (1 163bl-5, 12-18) of the type of friendship in which one 
partner receives the larger share of honor and acclamation, the other partner the 
larger share of material assistance — clearly a reference to personal patronage 

37 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

between people of unequal social status. By the first century AD, the attempt 
at Athens to restrict personal patronage is but a distant memory, an exception 
to an unobjectionable rule. 

Greek and Latin authors from the Hellenistic and Roman periods 
express a shared ethos where friendship, patronage, and public benefaction are 
concerned, as we shall see below. Aristotle and Seneca, Dio and Cicero, agree 
concerning what guidelines the giver and recipient should follow. Moreover, 
as the Greek world is transformed into the provinces of the Roman Empire, 
Greek cities no less than Roman colonies become acquainted with patronage 
as the means by which the whole city gets connected with the center of power 
and resources, namely the emperor and senate of Rome. A Greek statesman 
like Plutarch, instructing aspiring politicians, discusses the advisability of 
having well-placed friends who can support and advance one's political agenda 
{Mor. SMC). The main difference between personal patronage in the Greek 
and Roman cultures is the formalized etiquette surrounding the latter in the 
morning greeting of the patron by his or her clients. The salutatio displayed the 
relationship of patron and clients visibly and publicly, a display that would 
continue throughout the day as some number of clients accompanied the patron 
in public places, displaying the patron's prestige and power with a visible 
entourage at home and in the public spaces."^ With this one difference (a 
difference which disappeared as Roman customs spread throughout their 
empire), patronage and benefaction proceeded in Greek and Roman circles with 
much the same ethos and expectations. 

The social context of "Grace" 

We have looked closely and at some length at the relationships and 
activities which mark the patron-client relationship, friendship, or public 
benefaction, because these are the social contexts in which the word "grace" 
(charis) is at home in the first century AD. Today, "grace" is primarily a 
religious word, heard only in churches and Christian circles. It has progressed 
through millennia of theological reflection, developments, and accretions 
(witness the multiplication of terms like "justifying grace," "sanctifying grace," 
and "prevenient grace" in Christian theology, systematizing the order of 
salvation). For the actual writers and readers of the New Testament, however, 
"grace" was not primarily a religious, as opposed to secular, word: rather it was 
used to speak of reciprocity among human beings and between mortals and God 
(or, in pagan literature, the gods). This single word encapsulated the entire 
ethos of the relationships we have been describing. 

First, "grace" was used to refer to the willingness of a patron to grant 
some benefit to another person or to a group. In this sense, it means "favor," 
in the sense of "favorable disposition." In Aristotle's words (Rhetoric 2.1. \ 

38 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

[ 1 385a 1 6-20]), "Grace (char is) may be defined as helpfulness toward someone 
in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself 
[or herself], but for that of the person helped."" In this sense, the word 
highlights the generosity and disposition of the patron, benefactor, or giver. 
The same word carries a second sense, often being used to denote the "gift" 
itself, that is, the result of the giver's beneficent feelings.'^ Many honorary 
inscriptions mention the "graces" {char Has) of the benefactor as the cause for 
conferring public praise, emphasizing the real and received products of the 
benefactor's good will toward a city or group." Finally, "grace" can be used 
to speak of the response to a benefactor and his or her gifts, namely "gratitude." 
Demosthenes provides a helpful window into this aspect in his De corona as 
he chides his audience for not responding honorably to those who have helped 
them in the past: "but you are so ungrateful (acharistos) and wicked by nature 
that, having been made free out of slavery and wealthy out of poverty by these 
people, you do not show gratitude (charin echeis) toward them but rather 
enriched yourself by taking action against them" {De corona 131).'^ "Grace" 
thus has very specific meanings for the authors and readers of the New 
Testament, meanings derived primarily from the use of the word in the context 
of the giving of benefits and the requiting of favors. 

The fact that one and the same word can be used to speak of a 
beneficent act and the response to a beneficent act suggests implicitly what 
many moralists from the Greek and Roman cultures stated explicitly: "grace" 
must be met with "grace," favor must always give birth to favor,-'' gift must 
always be met with gratitude. An image that captured this ethos for the 
ancients was three goddesses, the three "Graces," dancing hand-in-hand in a 
circle. Seneca's explanation of the image is most revealing: 

Some would have it appear that there is one for bestowing a 
benefit, one for receiving it, and a third for returning it; 
others hold that there are three classes of benefactors — 
those who receive benefits, those who return them, those 
who receive and return them at the same time.... Why do the 
sisters hand in hand dance in a ring which returns upon 
itself? For the reason that a benefit passing in its course from 
hand to hand returns nevertheless to the giver; the beauty of 
the whole is destroyed if the course in anywhere broken, and 
it has most beauty if it is continuous and maintains an 
uninterrupted succession.... Their faces are cheerful, as are 
ordinarily the faces of those who bestow or receive benefits. 
They are young because the memory of benefits ought not to 
grow old. They are maidens because benefits are pure and 
holy and undefiled in the eyes of all; [their robes] are 

39 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

transparent because benefits desire to be seen (5e«. 1 .3.2-5; 

LCL, emphasis mine). 
From this, and many other ancient witnesses, we learn that there is no such 
thing as an isolated act of "grace." An act of favor and its manifestation (the 
gift) initiate a circle dance in which the recipients of favor and gifts must 
"return the favor," that is, give again to the giver (both in terms of a generous 
disposition and in terms of some gift, whether material or otherwise). Only a 
gift requited is a gift well and nobly received. To fail to return favor for favor 
is, in effect, to break off the dance and destroy the beauty of the gracious act. 

In what follows, we will look closely at how Greek and Roman 
authors conceived of well executed grace-exchanges first in relation to the giver 
and then in relation to the recipient. 

Showing Favor (Grace) 

Generosity was a highly valued characteristic in people in the 
Hellenistic and Roman periods. Most public works, public festivals and 
entertainments, and private aid to individuals or groups came through the 
willingness of generous people of means to spend their wealth on others. 
Because their assistance was essential in so many ways, there were strong 
social sanctions against violating the expectations of gratitude (see below), 
violations that threatened to cut off the source of aid or redirect that aid in more 
promising directions. 

There were also clear codes of conduct for the giver as well, 
guidelines that sought to preserve, in theory at least, the nobility and purity of 
a generous act. First, ancient ethicists spoke much of the motives that should 
guide the benefactor or patron. Aristotle's definition of "grace" in its first 
sense (the generous disposition of the giver), quoted above, underscores the 
fact that a giver must act not from self-interest but in the interest of the 
recipient.^" If the motive is primarily self-interest, any sense of "favor" is 
nullified and with it the deep feelings and obligations of gratitude (Aristotle, 
Nic. Eth. 1385a35-1385b3). The Jewish sage, Yeshua Ben Sira, lampoons the 
ungraceful giver (Sir 20:13-16). This character gives not out the virtue of 
generosity but in anticipation of profit, and if the profit does not come 
immediately he considers his gifts to be thrown away and complains aloud 
about the ingratitude of the human race. Seneca also speaks censoriously of 
this character: "He who gives benefits imitates the gods, he who seeks a return, 
money-lenders" {Ben. 3.15.4).^' The point is that the giver, if he or she gives 
nobly, never gives with an eye to what can be gained from the gift.^~ The giver 
does not give to an elderly person so as to be remembered in a will, or to an 
elected official with a view to getting some leverage in politics. Such people 
are investors, not benefactors or friends. 

40 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

Gifts are not to be made with a view to having some desired object 
given in return, but gifts were still to be made strategically. According to 
Cicero, good gifts badly placed are badly given (De officiis 2.62). The shared 
advice of Isocrates, Ben Sira, Cicero, and Seneca is that the giver should 
scrutinize the person to whom he or she is thinking of giving a gift." The 
recipient should be a virtuous person who will honor the generosity and 
kindness behind the gift, who would value more the continuing relationship 
with the giver than any particular gift. Especially poignant is Isocrates' advice: 
"Bestow your favors on the good; for a goodly treasure is a store of gratitude 
laid up in the heart of an honest man. If you benefit bad men, you will have the 
same reward as those who feed stray dogs; for these snarl alike at those who 
give them food and at the passing stranger; and just so base men wrong alike 
those who help them and those who harm them" {To Demonicus 29; LCL). An 
important component in deciding who will be a worthy recipient of one's gifts 
is his or track record of how he or she has responded to other givers in the 
past.^"* Has he or she responded nobly, with gratitude? He or she will probably 
be worthy of more favors. A reputation for knowing how to be grateful was, 
in effect, the ancient equivalent of a credit-rating. 

Giving without advance calculation of a return and selecting one's 
beneficiaries carefully may at first glance appear to be contradictory principles. 
When Seneca writes that gifts given to the ungrateful are '"thrown away" {Ben. 
1 . 1 .2), he may appear to intensify this contradiction. Aware of this potential 
misunderstanding, he writes: 'i choose a person who will be grateful, not one 
who is likely to make a return, and it often happens that the grateful man is one 
who is not likely to make a return, while the ungrateful man is one who has 
made a return. It is to the heart that my estimate is directed" {Ben. 4. 1 0.4). The 
noble giver evaluates his or her potential beneficiaries not in light of any actual 
return they might make — not in terms of the value of the gifts or services they 
might give in exchange in the future — but in light of the disposition of the 
recipient's heart toward feeling gratitude, appreciating and remembering the 
gift and making whatever return he or she is able, given his or her means. The 
patron's motive must be kept pure, that is, not sowing benefits for the sake of 
material gains or other temporal advantages, but looking only for the grateful 
heart irrespective of the means possessed by the potential recipient to "be of 
service" in the future. 

The benefactor's favor was not, however, to be limited by the potential 
beneficiary's virtue (or lack thereof). Even while advising his readers to 
channel their resources first toward the deserving (that is, those who have given 
signs of a grateful character),^^ Seneca urges givers to remain as free as "the 
gods" in terms of their generosity. Benefaction was the initiation of the dance 
of grace, an action rather than a response, a perfect and self-contained act rather 

41 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

than an act that depended on anything beyond the virtue and goodwill of the 
giver. Therefore, Seneca, would advise his readers, the human benefactor 
should imitate the "gods," by whose design "the sun rises also upon the 
wicked" and "rains" are provided for both good and bad (Ben. 4.26. 1 ; 4.28. 1 ), 
who follow the leading of their own generous and kind hearts in their dealings 
with human beings, both the grateful and the sacrilegious (Ben. 1 . 1 .9). 

A virtuous, human patron or benefactor, then, will be willing to grant 
public benefactions even though she or he knows that the ingrates will also 
derive enjoyment fi*om the games, the public meals, the construction of a new 
theater. Seneca's lofty code for givers, however, applies also to personal 
patronage. A generous-hearted patron might even choose a known ingrate — 
even someone who has previously failed to show gratitude for a gift granted by 
this same patron — to receive a favor (Seneca, Ben. 1.10.5; 7.31.2, 4). 
Repeated acts of kindness, like a farmer's ongoing labor over difficult soil, may 
yet awaken a slow heart to show gratitude and respond nobly (Seneca, Ben. 
7.32). 

Responding with Grace 

As we have already seen in Seneca's allegory of the three "Graces," 
an act of favor must give rise to a response of gratitude — grace must answer 
grace, or else something beautiful will be defaced and turned into something 
ugly. According to Cicero, while initiating a gift was a matter of choice, 
gratitude was not optional for honorable people, but rather an absolute duty (De 
Officiis 1 .47-48). Receiving a favor or kindness meant incurring very directly 
a "debf or "obligation" to respond gratefully, a debt on which one could not 
default. ^^ Seneca stresses the simultaneity of receiving a gift and an obligation: 
"The person who intends to be grateful, even while she or he is receiving, 
should turn his or her thoughts to returning the favor" (Ben. 2.25.3). Indeed, 
the virtuous person could seek to compete with the giver in terms of kindnesses 
and favor, trying not merely to "return" the favor but to return it with interest 
like the fruitful soil that bears crops far more abundant than the seeds that were 
scattered upon it." 

Gratitude towards one's patrons (or toward public benefactors) was 
a prominent example in discussions of what it meant to live out the cardinal 
virtue of "justice," a virtue defined as giving to each person what was his or her 
due. It was ranked in importance next to showing the gods, those supreme 
benefactors, the proper honor and services.^* Failure to show gratitude, 
however, was classed as the worst of crimes, being compared to sacrilege 
against the gods, since the Graces were considered goddesses," and being 
censured as an injury against the human race, since ingratitude discourages the 
very generosity that was so crucial to public life and to personal aid. Seneca 

42 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 {\999) 

captures well the perilous nature of life in the first-century world and the need 
for firm tethers of friendship and patronage to secure one against mishap: 
Ingratitude is something to be avoided in itself because there 
is nothing that so effectually disrupts and destroys the 
harmony of the human race as this vice. For how else do we 
live in security if it is not that we help each other by an 
exchange of good offices? it is only through the interchange 
of benefits that life becomes in some measure equipped and 
fortified against sudden disasters. Take us singly, and what 
are we? The prey of all creatures (Ben. 4.18.1; LCL).^° 
The ingrate committed a crime against the gods, humanity, and ultimately 
himself or herself, while the person who returned grace for grace embodied the 
highest virtues of piety and justice and was valued for contributing to the 
forward movement of the dance of grace on which so much depended. 

Responding justly to one's benefactors was a behavior enforced not 
by written laws but rather "by unwritten customs and universal practice," with 
the result that a person known for gratitude would be considered praiseworthy 
and honorable by all, while the ingrate would be regarded as disgraceful."" 
There was no law for the prosecution of the person who failed to requite a favor 
(with the interesting exception of classical Macedonia), but, Seneca affirmed, 
the punishment of shame and hatred by all good people would more than make 
up for the lack of official sanctions."" Neglecting to return a kindness, 
forgetfulness of kindnesses already received in the past, and, most horrendous 
of all, repaying favor with insult or injury — these were courses of action to be 
avoided by an honorable person at all costs."^ Rather, gifts were always to be 
remembered, commemorated first of all in the shrine of one's own mind, and 
always to be requited with gratitude. The social sanctions of honor and shame, 
therefore, were important bulwarks for the virtue of gratitude and exerted 
considerable pressure in this direction. 

Practically speaking, responding with gratitude was also reinforced by 
the knowledge that if one has needed favors in the past, one most assuredly will 
still need favors and assistance in the future. As we have seen already, a 
reputation for gratitude is the best credit-line one can have in the ancient world, 
since patrons and benefactors, when selecting beneficiaries, would seek out 
those who knew how to be grateful. Even though benefactors might be moved 
to risk giving to a person whose reputation has been marred by ingratitude, 
since most benefactors' resources were limited they would seek out the worthy 
recipients first.'*'* The person who "requites favors," then, is commended by 
Ben Sira for his or her foresight, since he or she will not fail to find aid when 
needed in the future (Sir 3:3 1 ). 

An extreme, yet surprisingly common, example of showing gratitude 

43 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

with an eye to future favors comes to expression in honorary inscriptions. 
Several inscriptions proclaiming honors to public benefactors contained in 
Danker's collection make explicit the motive behind the inscription, namely 
"that all might know that we express appropriate appreciation to those who ... 
make us the beneficiaries of their philanthropies," and that other benefactors 
may confer their benefits in the assurance that "they shall receive appropriate 
gratitude" as well.'*' Seeing that these cities or groups provided for the honor 
and remembrance of their benefactors, other benefactors would be encouraged 
to channel their resources in their direction as well (even as the honored 
benefactor would be positively inclined to continue her or his beneficence)."*^ 
The opposite would also be true, namely that those who have shown ingratitude 
to their patrons or benefactors should expect to be excluded from future favors, 
both by the insulted benefactor and by other potential patrons as well. Just as 
no one goes back to a merchant who has been discovered to cheat his 
customers, and as no one entrusts valuables to the safe-keeping of someone 
who has previously lost valuables entrusted to him, so "those who have insulted 
their benefactors will not be thought worthy of a favor (charitos axious) by 
anyone" (Dio, Or. 3 1 .38, 65). 

As we consider gratitude, then, we are presented with something of a 
paradox. Just as the favor was freely bestowed, so the response must be free 
and uncoerced. Nonetheless, that response is at the same time necessary and 
unavoidable for an honorable person who wishes to be known as such (and 
hence the recipient of favor in the future). Gratitude is never a formal 
obligation: there is no advance calculation of, or agreed upon, return for the gift 
given."*^ Nevertheless the recipient of a favor knows that he or she stands under 
the necessity of returning favor when favor has been received. The element of 
"exchange" must settle into the background, being dominated instead by a sense 
of mutual favor, of mutual good will and generosity."** 

Manifestations of Gratitude 

"Returning a favor" could take on many forms, depending on the 
nature of the gift and the relative economic and political clout of the parties 
concerned. Cities or associations would show their gratitude for public 
benefactions by providing for the public recognition (honoring and increasing 
the fame) of the giver and often memorializing the gift and the honors conferred 
by means of a public inscription or, in exceptional cases, a statue of the giver 
or other monument."'' 

Even in personal patronage (in which the parties are not on equal 
footing), however, public honor and testimony would comprise an important 
component of a grateful response. An early witness to this is Aristotle, who 
writes in his Nicomachian Ethics that "both parties should receive a larger 

44 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

share from the friendship, but not a larger share of the same thing: the superior 
should receive the larger share of honor, the needy one the larger share of 
profit; for honor is the due reward of virtue and beneficence" ( 1 163bl-5; 
LCL). Such a return, though of a very different kind, preserves the 
"friendship." Seneca emphasizes the public nature of the testimony that the 
recipient of a patron's gifts is to bear. Gratitude for, and pleasure at, receiving 
these gifts should be expressed "not merely in the hearing of the giver, but 
everywhere" (Ben. 2.22. 1 ): "The greater the favour, the more earnestly must we 
express ourselves, resorting to such compliments as: ... ' I shall never be able to 
repay you my gratitude, but, at any rate, I shall not cease from declaring 
everywhere that I am unable to repay it'" (Ben. 2.24.4). Increasing the fame of 
the giver is part of the proper return for a benefit, and a gift that one is ashamed 
to acknowledge openly in the hearing of all one has no business accepting in 
the first place (5e«. 2.23.1). 

These dynamics are also at work in Jewish literature with regard to 
formulating a proper response to God's favors, that is, with regard to answering 
the Psalmist's question "What shall I give back to the Lord for all his gifts to 
me?" (Ps 116:12). The psalmist answers his own question by enumerating the 
public testimonies he will give to God's fidelity and favor. Similarly, after God 
brings a happy ending to the many dangers and trials faced by Tobit and his 
family, the angel Raphael enjoins such public testimony to honor God as a 
fitting response: "Bless God and acknowledge him in the presence of all the 
living for the good things he has done for you.... With fitting honor declare to 
all people the deeds of God. Do not be slow to acknowledge him.... Reveal the 
works of God, and with fitting honor ... acknowledge him" (Tob 12:6-7; 
NRSV).''' 

A second component of gratitude as this comes to expression in 
relationships of personal patronage or friendship is loyalty to the giver, that is, 
showing gratitude and owning one's association with the giver even when 
fortunes turn and it becomes costly. Thus Seneca would write about gratitude 
that "if you wish to make a return for a favor, you must be willing to go into 
exile, or to pour forth your blood, or to undergo poverty, or, ... even to let your 
very innocence be stained and exposed to shameful slanders" (Ep. 81.27). 
Wallace-Hadrill writes that, despite the fact that, in theory, clients were 
expected to remain loyal to their patrons, in practice if a patron fell into 
political trouble or is his fortunes began to wane, his entourage of clients would 
evaporate.*^' Such practice, however, was contrary to the ideal of gratitude, 
according to which one would stand by (or under) one's patron and continue 
to live gratefully even if it cost one the future favors of others, or brought one 
into dangerous places and worked contrary to self-interest.'*" The person who 
disowned or dissociated himself from a patron because of self-interest was an 

45 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

ingrate. 

It is worth noting at this point that "faith" (Latin, fides; Greek, pistis) 
is a term also very much at home in patron-chent and friendship relations, and 
had, like "grace," a variety of meanings as the context shifted from the patron's 
"faith" to the client's "faith." In one sense, "faith" meant "dependability." The 
patron needed to prove himself or herself reliable in providing the assistance 
he or she promised to grant; the client needed to "keep faith" as well, in the 
sense of showing loyalty and commitment to the patron and to his or her 
obligations of gratitude.'''' A second meaning is the more familiar sense of 
"trust": the client had to "trust" the good will and ability of the patron to whom 
he entrusted his need, that the latter would indeed perform what he promised,^" 
while the benefactor would also have to trust the recipients to act nobly and 
make a grateful response. In Seneca's words, once a gift was given there was 
"no law [that can] restore you to your original estate — look only to the good 
faith ifidem) of the recipient" {Ben. 3.14.2). 

The principal of loyalty meant that clients or friends would have to 
take care not to become entangles in webs of crossed loyalties. Although a 
person could have multiple patrons,""^ to have as patrons two people who were 
enemies or rivals of one another would place one in a dangerous position, since 
ultimately one would have to prove loyal and grateful to one but disloyal and 
ungrateful to the other. "No one can serve two masters" honorably in the 
context of these masters being at odds with one another, but if the masters are 
"friends" or bound to each other by some other means the client should be safe 
in receiving favors from both. 

Finally, the grateful person would look for an occasion to bestow 
timely gifts or services. If we have shown forth our gratitude in the hearing of 
the patron and borne witness to the patron's virtue and generosity in the public 
halls, we have "repaid favor (the generous disposition of the giver) with favor 
(an equally gracious reception of the gift)," but for the actual gift one still 
"owes" an actual gift (Seneca, Ben. 2.35.1). Once again, people of similar 
authority and wealth ("friends") can exchange gifts similar in kind and value; 
clients, on the other hand, can offer services when called upon so to do or when 
they see the opportunity arise. Seneca especially seeks to cultivate a certain 
watchfulness on the part of the one who has been "indebted," urging him or her 
not to try to return the favor at the first possible moment (as if the debt weighed 
uncomfortably on one's shoulders), but to return the favor in the best possible 
moment, the moment in which the opportunity will be real and not 
manufactured {Ben. 6.4 1 . 1 -2). The point of the gift, in the first place, was not, 
after all, to obtain a return but to create a "bond" that "binds two people 
together". 



46 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

The Dance of Grace 

The careful reader may already have observed some apparent 
contradictions in the codes of "grace." Rather than make the system fall apart, 
these contrary principles result in a creative tension between the mindset that 
must guide the giver and the mindset that should direct the recipient of favor. 
As a pair of dancers must sometimes move in contrary directions for the dance 
to be beautiful (and to avoid crashing into one another), so the patron and client 
are each given their own chart of "steps" to follow in the dance of grace. 
Sometimes they move together, sometimes in contrary ways, all for the sake of 
preserving the freedom and nobility of the practice of giving and receiving 
benefits. Seneca is especially fond of bringing contrasting rules of conduct 
together, only to tell each party to forget that it knows, in effect, what the other 
party is thinking. Clients are advised to think one way, patrons another — and 
if these mindsets get mixed up or crossed, the beauty of reciprocity, the 
gracefulness of grace, becomes irreparably marred. 

Speaking to the giver, Seneca says that "the book-keeping is simple — 
so much is paid out; if anything comes back, it is gain, if nothing comes back, 
there is no loss. 1 made the gift for the sake of giving" (5e«. 1.2.3). While the 
giver is to train his or her mind to give no thought to the return and never to 
think a gift "lost," the recipient is never allowed to forget his or her obligation 
and the absolute necessity of making a return (Ben. 2.25.3; 3.1.1). The point 
is that the giver should wholly be concerned with giving for the sake of the 
other, while the recipient should be concerned wholly with showing gratitude 
to the giver, if the recipient should say to himself, "she gave it for the sake of 
giving; I owe nothing," then the dance has turned sour and one partner has 
trampled the other's toes. 

Many other examples of this double set of rules exist. The giver is 
told "to make no record of the amount," but the recipient is "to feel indebted for 
more than the amount" (Ben. 1.4.3); the giver should forget that the gift was 
given, the recipient should always remember that the gift was received (Ben. 
2. 10.4; see Demosthenes, De corona 269); the giver is not to mention the gift 
again, while the recipient is to publicize it as broadly as possible (Ben. 2. 1 1 .2). 
In cases where a recipient has taken great pains to try to return a benefit, being 
watchful and thoughtful for the opportunity but simply not finding a way to 
help one who is far greater than himself or herself, "the one should consider 
that he has received the return of his benefit, while the other should know that 
he has not returned it; the one should release the other, while the other should 
feel himself bound; the one should say, 'I have received,' the other, T still 
owe'" (5e«. 7.16.1-2). 

The most dramatic contradiction exists between the denial that the 
ingrate can again hope to receive favors (Dio, Or. 31.38, 65) and the 

47 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

exhortation of patrons to imitate the gods and give even to the unworthy and 
ungrateful (Seneca, Ben. 1.10.5; 7.31.2, 4; 7.32). What accounts for the 
contradiction? Simply, the different audience and situation. Seneca speaks to 
patrons in these passages, discoursing about the loftiest ideals for generosity; 
Dio speaks to recipients of favor, urging them to cease a specific practice that 
shows ingratitude toward their benefactors. The recipients of favor should not 
dwell too long on the possibility (perhaps even the obligation) of benefactors 
giving even to the ingrate, lest this lead them to excuse themselves from 
showing gratitude (especially when costly) and to presume upon the favor of 
the giver, favor that is never to be taken for granted. The patron should not, on 
the other hand, dwell too long on the impossibility of restoring the ingrate to 
favor, for different considerations are to guide him, namely generosity even to 
the undeserving. 

Such mutually contradictory rules (forgetting and remembering, being 
silent and bearing witness, and the like) are constructed so as to keep the 
giver's mind wholly on what is noble about patronage (generosity, acting in the 
interest of others) and the recipient's mind wholly on what is noble for the 
client (namely making a full and rich return of gratitude for favors conferred). 
They are devised in order to sustain both parties' commitment to acting nobly 
within the system of reciprocity. The ultimate goal for these ancient ethicists, 
after all, was not perfect systematization, but virtuous conduct. 

Patronage and Grace in the New Testament 

It was within this world where many relationships would be 
characterized in terms of patronage and friendship, and in which the wealthy 
were indeed known as "benefactors" (Lk 22:25), that Jesus' message took 
shape and that the good news of God's favor was taken out into the 
Mediterranean world. Not all relationships fell under this heading of "grace 
relationships," since there are many "contractual" relationships (e.g., between 
tenants and landlord, merchants, and the like) in which the return for goods, 
services, or privileges is spelled out in advance and not left to "goodwill." 
Nevertheless, Jesus and his first disciples moved among and within patronage 
and friendship networks, for patronage was as much at home on Palestinian soil 
as in Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Africa, and Rome. Centuries of living under 
Greek, then Ptolemaic, then Seleucid^^ and finally Roman domination" 
obliterated any hard and fast boundaries between "Palestinian" and "non- 
Palestinian" culture. 

Moreover, after just a few years of incubation in Judea, Christianity 
began to spread through the urban centers of the Mediterranean world where 
there would be a consistently high level of exposure among all the Christians 
to public benefaction and public responses of gratitude, and among many 

48 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 {\ 999) 

Christians to personal patronage. These would have been prominent aspects of 
the world which they inhabited, and even of the experiences they personally 
enjoyed. As Jews and Gentiles came to hear Paul or other missionaries 
celebrate the marvels of God's "grace" made available through Jesus, the "sole 
mediator" between God and humanity, they would have heard it in the context 
of so many inscriptions and other public declarations of the beneficence of 
great figures.''* For such converts, God's "grace" {charts) would not be of a 
different kind than the "grace" with which they were already familiar: it would 
be understood as different only in quality and degree. Moreover, they would 
know that the reception of gifts "given freely" laid the recipients under 
obligation to respond with grace to match (insofar as possible), with the result 
that much exhortation in the New Testament falls within the scope of directing 
believers to a proper, "grateful response" to God's favor.^'^ 

Luke 7 provides us with a place to start as we consider the networks 

of grace relationships in operation within the pages of the New Testament: 

A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and 

who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, 

he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and 

heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to 

him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy of having you do this 

for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our 

synagogue for us." And Jesus went with them, but when he , 

was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say 

to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy 

to have you come under my roof; therefore 1 did not 

presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let 

my servant be healed. For 1 also am a man set under 

authority, with soldiers under me; and 1 say to one, 'Go,' 

and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to 

my slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it." When Jesus 

heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd 

that followed him, he said, "I tell you, not even in Israel 

have I found such faith." When those who had been sent 

returned to the house, they found the slave in good health 

(7:2-10; NRSV). 

The centurion is presented as a local benefactor, doing what benefactors 

frequently do — erecting a building for public use (here, a synagogue). Faced 

with the mortal illness of a member of his household, and made aware of Jesus' 

reputation as a healer (thus himself a broker of God's favors), he seeks 

assistance from Jesus whom he knows has the resources to meet the need. He 

does not go himself, for he is an outsider — a Gentile (and a Roman officer, at 

49 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

that). Instead, he looks for someone who has some connection with Jesus, 
someone who might be better placed in the scheme of things to secure a favor 
from this Jewish healer. So he calls upon those whom he has benefitted, the 
local Jewish elders, who will be glad for this opportunity to do him a good 
service (to do a favor for one who has bestowed costly favors on the 
community). He knows they will do their best to plead his cause, and thinks 
that their being of the same race and, in effect, extended kinship group as Jesus 
will make success likely. Thus the centurion's beneficiaries return the favor by 
brokering access to someone who has what the centurion needs. When the 
Jewish elders approach Jesus, they are, in effect, asking for the favor. As 
mediators, they also provide testimony to the virtuous character of the man who 
will ultimately be the recipient of favor. Jesus agrees to the request. Then the 
centurion does something surprising. He sends some of his ''friends" (either 
people of like status with whom he shares benefits or people of lesser status 
that are attached to him as their personal patron) to intercept Jesus. A local 
benefactor shows astonishing humility in his dealings with a transient Jewish 
healer, and shows exceptional trust in Jesus' ability to grant God's favors. The 
end result is that the Roman centurion receives from Jesus the gift he needed.^° 

Another text that prominently displays the cultural codes and dynamics 
of reciprocity is Paul's letter to Philemon, which speaks of past benefits 
conferred by Paul and Philemon and calls for a new gift, namely freeing 
Onesimus to join Paul. Although Paul lacks both property and a place in a 
community, he nevertheless claims to be able to exercise authority over 
Philemon on the basis of having brought Philemon the message of salvation, 
thus on the basis of having given a valuable benefit (Philem 8, 1 8). Philemon 
himself has been the benefactor of the Colossian Christians, seen in his opening 
up of his house to them (Philem 2) and in the generosity that has been the 
means by which "the hearts of the saints have been refreshed" (Philem 7), 
perhaps including material assistance offered Paul during the time of their 
acquaintance and after. 

We find a mixture of grounds on which Paul bases his request: on the 
one hand, Paul claims authority to command Philemon's obedience as Paul's 
client (Philem 8, 14, 20);^' on the other, he voices his preference to address 
Philemon as friend (Philem 1 ), co-worker, and partner, and only actually makes 
his request on that basis (Philem 9, 14, 17, 20), hoping now to "benefif 
(Philem 20) from Philemon's continued generosity toward the saints, which has 
earned him much honor in the community. The gift (really, the "return") that 
Paul seeks is the company and help of Onesimus, Philemon's slave. Paul 
presents Onesimus as someone who can give Paul the kind of help and service 
that Philemon ought to be providing Paul (Philem 13), and Paul's mention of 
his own need (his age and his imprisonment, Philem 9) will both rouse 

50 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

Philemon's feelings of friendship and desire to help as well as make failure to 
help a ft-iend in such need the more reprehensible. 

The situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that Onesimus has 
estranged himself from Philemon, running from his master and lodging with 
Paul." This means that Paul must act first as mediator for Onesimus, first 
seeking to gain a benefit from his friend, Philemon, for his own client. Paul's 
mediation means that Philemon will no longer treat Onesimus as Onesimus 
deserves (that is, as a disobedient and troublesome slave), but will treat him as 
his patron, Paul, deserves. Any injury committed by Onesimus is to be written 
on Paul's account, which shows a very wide credit margin (Philem 18-19)." 
Paul's decision to return Onesimus with Paul's letter allows Philemon to act 
nobly and charitably toward both his new brother in the faith (Philem 16) and 
toward his partner and spiritual patron, first by welcoming Onesimus on Paul's 
merits (Philem 17) and then by releasing him to help Paul (Philem 13-14). 

Philemon really does appear to be in a comer in this letter — Paul has 
left him little room to refuse his request! If he is to keep his reputation for 
generosity and for acting nobly in his relations of reciprocity (the public 
reading of the letter creates a court of reputation that will make this evaluation), 
he can only respond to Paul's request in the affirmative. Only then would his 
generosity bring him any credit at all in the community; if he refuses and Paul 
must command what he now asks, Philemon will either have to break with Paul 
or lose Onesimus anyway without gaining any honor as a benefactor and 
reliable friend. 

Many other examples of favors being granted by local patrons or 
human benefactors being acknowledged exist in the New Testament.^" These 
provide us with but a starting point for discovering the social codes of grace 
within the text. Of greater import is the manner in which New Testament 
authors conceptualize the involvement of God in human affairs as the 
involvement of a benefactor and a personal patron, how they understand Jesus' 
role within the framework of God's beneficence, and how they direct the 
recipient of God's gifts to respond to such "amazing grace." To these we now 
turn, concluding with an examination of how patronage within the Christian 
community is transformed into stewardship, so that God remains, in fact, "all 
in all." 

God the Benefactor and Patron 

The opening and closing wishes in New Testament epistles are 
consistently for God's "grace" (favor) to be upon the recipients of the letter. 
God's grace {charts) would have been understood by the recipients of those 
epistles within the context of the meaning of usage of "grace" in everyday 
parlance: it is not a different species of charts, but rather derives its 

51 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

meaningfulness as a kind of charts — one in which certain surprising qualities 
are displayed but also one with some important areas of continuity with "grace" 
in general.''^ 

God has indebted all living beings by virtue of being the creator and 
sustainer of all life (Acts 14:17; 17:24-28; 1 Cor 8:6; Rev 4:9-1 1). From the 
moment one draws breath, one is bound to revere the God who gives breath 
(Rev 14:6-7).^'' Paul reminds his readers that no human being has ever made 
God a debtor: God is always the first giver who obligates us, "for from him and 
through him and to him are all things" (Rom 1 1 :35-36; NRSV). This is why 
Jew and Gentile have exactly the same standing before God, namely recipients 
of the favor of the Gracious One, neither with a claim on God's return of favor 
but both obligated to respond to God's favor. It is precisely here, however, that 
humanity has failed. Neither Gentile nor Jew returned to God the reverence 
and service God merited, but even went so far as to insult God through blatant 
disobedience (Rom 1:18-2:24). Meeting God's favor with insult, humanity 
incurred the anger of the one who had sought to benefit them.^^ 

The New Testament authors, however, announce a new manifestation 
of God's favor, an opportunity for deliverance from experiencing God's wrath 
made available to all through Jesus the Christ ( 1 Tim 4:10). This beneficent act 
is presented as God's fulfillment of longstanding promises made to Israel, 
presenting God as a reliable benefactor who has "kept faith" with his historic 
body of clients (Luke 1:54, 68-75; Acts 3:26; Rom 15:8). The songs of Mary 
and Zechariah in Luke's infancy narratives are especially noteworthy as 
testimonies to God's fidelity with regard to delivering the grants he had 
promised to Abraham and his descendants, expressed in terms familiar from 
decrees honoring contemporary emperors (bringing peace, deliverance from 
oppression, and the like).''^ Christians are repeatedly made aware that they are 
specially privileged to witness the working out of God's provision for 
deliverance in Jesus — many great people of the past looked forward to the day 
when that gift would be given (Mt 13:16-17; Lk 10:23-24; 1 Pet 1:10-12). 

An important component of the New Testament message about God's 
beneficence is that, while having kept faith with Israel, God now invites all 
people to stand in his favor and enjoy his patronage. Recognition for God's 
inclusion of the Gentiles within the sphere of his favor was not easily won in 
the early church, but eventually the church came to realize the breadth and 
scope of God's generosity in this new act of flavor. The specific gift of God in 
bestowing the Holy Spirit even on Gentiles was the decisive proof of God's 
acceptance of the non-Jew into God's favor (Acts 11:15-18; Gal 3:1-5; 3:28- 
4:7).*" The experience of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the believers was 
understood as a gift from God that signified adoption into God's family (Gal 
4:5-6), the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham (Gal 3:14), the 

52 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

restoration of peace and favor with God (Rom 5:5), and as a pledge of the 
future benefits God has prepared and will confer at the return of Jesus or after 
the believer's death (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:13-14). The vibrant and vital 
presence of the Spirit was thus an important assurance to the church of God's 
favor toward them. 

We come at last to what is surprising about God's grace. It is not that 
God gives "freely and uncoerced": every benefactor, in theory at least, did 
this.™ God goes far beyond the high-water mark of generosity set by Seneca, 
which was for virtuous people to consider even giving to the ungratefuF' (// 
they had resources to spare after benefitting the virtuous). To provide some 
modest assistance to those who had failed to be grateful in the past would be 
accounted a proof of great generosity, but God shows the supreme, fullest 
generosity (not just what God has to spare!) toward those who are God's 
enemies (not just ingrates, but those who have been actively hostile to God and 
God's desires). This is an outgrowth of God's determination to be "kind"^~ 
even "toward the ungrateful [acharistous] and the wicked" (Lk 6:35). God's 
selection of his enemies as beneficiaries of his most costly gift is one area in 
which God's favor truly stands out.''^ 

A second aspect of God's favor that stands out is God's initiative in 
effecting reconciliation with those who have affronted God's honor. God does 
not wait for the offenders to make an overture, or to offer some token 
acknowledging their own disgrace and shame in acting against God in the first 
place. Rather, God sets aside his anger in setting forth Jesus, providing an 
opportunity for people to come into favor and escape the consequences of 
having previously acted as enemies (hence the choice of "deliverance," soteria, 
as a dominant image for God's gift). We will see below that Jesus is primarily 
presented in terms of a mediator or "broker" of access to God's favor, since he 
connects those who make themselves his clients to another patron; nevertheless, 
those images cannot make us ignore that even such a mediator is God's gift to 
the world, hence an evidence of God's initiative in forming this relationship 
(Rom 3:22-26; 5:8; 8:3-4; 2 Cor 5:18, 21; 1 Jn 4:10). The formation of this 
grace-relationship thus runs contrary to the normal stream of lower-echelon 
people seeking out brokers who can connect them with higher patrons. 

God is guided in this generosity by the consideration of "his own 
reputation and arete" (2 Pet 1 :3), a phrase that resonates again with honorary 
inscriptions, in which benefactors are said to demonstrate their virtuous 
character, or live up to their forebears' reputation for virtue, through their 
generosity.^" The death of Jesus on behalf of humankind thus becomes a 
"demonstration of God's righteousness" (his character and virtue, Rom 1:16- 
1 7; 3 :25-26), showing that God's generosity exceeds all expectations and upper 
limits and that God needs nothing from the sinner in order to act in accordance 

53 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

with his own generous character. The early Christians are repeatedly 
admonished, however, to take such a demonstration of boundless generosity as 
God's single call to humankind at last to respond virtuously and whole- 
heartedly (most eloquently, 2 Pet 1:3-11), and never as an excuse to offend God 
further (Rom 6:1; Gal 5:1, 13). 

God not only dispenses general (rather than personal) benefactions 
like the grant of life to all creatures (Acts 14:17) or gifts of sun and rain (Matt 
5:45)^^ but becomes a personal patron to the Christians who receive his Son. 
These believers become part of God's own household^^ and enjoy a special 
access to divine favors. The rich and well-placed were careful in their choice 
of friends and clients: while they might provide meals, games, or buildings for 
the public (benefaction), they did not accept any and all as clients (personal 
patronage). Rather distinctive about God's favor is that he offers to any who 
will come (thus in the form of a public benefaction), without prior scrutiny of 
the character and reliability of the recipients, the assurance of welcome into 
God's own extended household (thus into a relationship of personal patronage) 
— even to the point of adoption into God's family as sons and daughters and 
to the point of sharing the inheritance of the Son (which is exceptional even in 
personal patronage)." The authors of the New Testament therefore offer 
attachment to God as personal patron, something that would be considered 
highly desirable for those in need of the security and protection a great patron 
would provide.^^ 

As God proved reliable in his promises to Israel, so God will prove 
reliable toward the Christians who have trusted his promises and welcomed his 
invitation to become God's clients (1 Thess 5:23-24; 2 Tim 1:12; Tit 1:2; Heb 
10:23). Paul speaks thus about God being responsible for rescuing him from 
past distress, about his confidence of personal help in future trials, about God 
assisting and multiplying his labors, and the like.™ Each Christian also enjoys 
this assurance that God is open to hearing specific petitions from individuals 
or local communities of faith, and the privilege of access to God for such timely 
andspecifichelp(Eph3:20;Phil4:6-7,19;2Thess3:3;Heb 13:5-6; 1 Pet5:7). 
Christians need never falter in their commitment to Jesus or release their grasp 
on God's final rewards because of the hostility or pressures applied by 
unbelievers: rather, they may "hold fast their confession" as they "approach the 
throne of favor with boldness," so as to "receive mercy and find favor for 
timely help" (Heb 4:14-16).'° 

Christian scriptures are unanimous in affirming that God's favor and 
help are assured, so that trust is justified and only appropriate. Romans 8:32 
is perhaps the most poignant assurance of ongoing favor: what assistance or 
favor would God withhold from us, after having given up his Son on our behalf 
even before we were reconciled?^' Jesus taught that God had knowledge of his 

54 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/ { 1 999) 

clients' needs and exercised forethought to provide both for their physical and 
eternal well-being (Mt 6:7-8; 6:25-33).*" Jesus did not, however, discourage 
prayer in spite of God's knowledge, and the rest of the New Testament authors 
either promote prayer as the means to securing divine favors or display prayer 
as effective (e.g., Lk 1:13). Why pray if God already knows our needs? 
Because God delights to grant favors to those who belong to God's household. 
When we ask, we also have the opportunity to know the "blessed experience" 
of gratitude*' and live out our response (in fact, be ennobled by feeling grateful 
and responding to God's grace). The result of the offering of prayers and 
God's answering of petitions is thanksgiving "from many mouths," the increase 
of God's honor and reputation for generosity and beneficence (2 Cor 1:11). 
Prayer becomes, then, the means by which believers can personally seek God's 
favor, and request specific benefactions, for themselves or on behalf of one 
another.*" 

God's patronage of the Christian community is also evidenced in the 
growth and building up of the churches and their members. The thanksgiving 
sections of Paul's letters attribute all progress as disciples and as communities 
of faith to God's gifting and equipping (1 Cor 1 :5-7; Col 1:3-4; 1 Thess 1 :2; 2 
Thess 1 :3; 1 Tim 1 :3-6). As churches or their leaders "take stock" of what has 
been accomplished in their midst, it becomes a time to return thanks and honor 
to the God who accomplishes every good work. God bestows spiritual and 
material endowments on individual believers to be used for the health and 
strengthening of the whole church (1 Cor 12:1-11, 18; 14:12; Eph 4:1-12). 
Even monetary contributions made by Christians to churches or other works of 
charity are now seen as God's provision for the Body and not the means by 
which local patrons (or would-be patrons) can make a power base out of the 
church (the recipients of their favors). 

God is presented in the New Testament, then, as the source of many 
gifts (indeed, of "every good and complete gift," Jas 1:1 7) in connection with 
Jesus. From the gift of life and provision of all things needed for the sustaining 
of life to the provision for people to exchange enmity with God for a place in 
God's household and under God's personal patronage, God is the one who 
supplies our lack, who gives assistance in our need. Nor does God's favor exist 
for this life only. The announcement of God's "year of favor" includes being 
chosen by God and being made holy (2 Thess 2:19; 1 Pet 1 : 1 -2), given a new 
birth into a new family and heritage (Jn 1:12-13; Jas 1:18), and qualified to 
share in an eternal inheritance (Col 1:12), which is deliverance itself (Col 1:13). 
When the day of God's reckoning arrives, God will vindicate his clients in the 
face of all the shame and abuse they suffered at the hands of those who refused 
favor, for God protects the honor of his household by avenging wrongs done 
to them (Luke 1 8: 1 -8; 2 Thess 1 :6), but those who have committed themselves 

55 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

to God in trust and gratitude will receive their unshakable kingdom (Heb 
12:28). 

Jesus, the Mediator of God's Favor 

While Jesus is "put forward" by God (Rom 3:25) as a provision for 
reconciliation, and thus a gift from God, he is cast more frequently in the New 
Testament in the role of Mediator of God's favors and broker of access to God. 
From an early point in the developing reflection on Jesus' significance, that 
mediation was seen to have begun in the act of creation itself as the pre- 
incamate Son was assigned the role of God's co-worker in creation,^^ indeed 
the "agenf through whom God fostered creation (John 1 :3, 1 0; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 
1:16; Heb 1:2-3). 

Luke sums up the earthly ministry of Jesus as follows: "'he went about 
doing good (ewer^e/OA?) and healing" (Acts 10:38). Luke has chosen a the verb 
form of the noun "benefactor" (euergetes) to characterize Jesus' activity, which 
was "benefitting" others. Indeed, the second verb reveals the principal kind of 
benefaction bestowed by Jesus throughout his ministry, namely healing disease 
or infirmity and delivering from demonic oppression,^^ even the restoration of 
the dead to life (Mt 9:18-25; Lk 7:1 1-17). Jesus' ministry of teaching could 
also be considered a gift (and not something the crowds endured in order to 
receive gifts!), since good advice and guidance were valued and valuable 
commodities. Seneca (Ben. 1.2.4), for example, had included "advice" and 
"sound precepts" amidst the various kinds of assistance a friend or patron 
would give. Jesus' provision of simple meals for his vast entourage of five 
thousand and four thousand also resembles (with the important difference of 
the miraculous element; Mt 14:14-21; 15:32-38) the Roman sportulae (ak'm to 
our modem "boxed lunch") provided by patrons for the clients who attended 
them at their doorstep. This connection is especially apparent in John, where 
Jesus chides the crowds for following after him (joining his entourage) for the 
sake of a handout of food rather than for the spiritual food he has to offer (Jn 
6:11, 15,26-27,34-35). 

Jesus' ability to confer benefits of such kind derives from his 
relationship with God, specifically as the mediator of favors that reside in the 
province of God's power and prerogatives to grant or withhold. One episode 
that brings this to the fore poignantly is the healing of the paralytic who was let 
down through Peter's roof (Mk 2:3-12//Mt 9:2-8//Lk 5:20-26). Jesus' first act 
is to grant the man forgiveness of his sins, a bold move that prompts the 
religious experts sitting in the crowd to criticize him for presuming upon God's 
prerogatives (Mk 2:7), namely pardon for crimes committed against God. Jesus 
successfully defends his claim to be able to confer divine favors (like pardon), 
however, as he heals the paralytic and allows him to walk away. The visible 

56 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

benefit proves the unobservable one, demonstrating that his declaring 
forgiveness is not blasphemy, but the real conferral of God's gift.*^ 

The response to Jesus during his earthly ministry bears the stamp of 
responses typical of beneficiaries to their benefactors. Notable is the spread of 
Jesus' fame, the result of public testimony being given to the benefactor's 
generosity (Mk 5:19-20; Lk 8:39; Mk 4:24; 9:26, 31; Lk 5:15; 7:17). Even 
those who are commanded to be silent cannot refrain from spreading his fame, 
so ingrained is public praise of one's benefactor (Mk 1:45; 7:36-37; Lk 13:17; 
Mt 9:30-31).^^ it is possible that those healed understood Jesus' commands 
against publicizing it as signs of the genuineness of Jesus' motives in healing 
— he was not a "glory-seeker" but a sincere benefactor. Ironically, this would 
have the effect of making them feel gratitude even more deeply, and thus more 
apt to declare Jesus' aretai, his demonstrations of his virtue in well-doing. The 
result of this spread of the report of his well-doing is the collection of vast 
entourage (in essence, a clientela; Mt 4:25; Lk 5: 1 5) who are clearly presented 
as seekers, or recipients, of his favors. The mass of followers is the visible 
representation of Jesus' fame and a potential power base for any public agenda 
he might entertain, hence the cause of the arousal of envy (Jn 12:19) and 
possibly the source of the fear that led to his execution by the Romans as a 
political enemy. 

In addition to the increase of his reputation by his clients and those 
who approve his beneficent acts, Jesus personally receives the thanks and 
reverence due a patron. The story of the ten lepers (Lk 17:1 1-19) especially 
highlights the appropriateness of such expressions of gratitude at the reception 
of a benefit.^'' Jesus is approached by suppliants in an attitude of trust that he 
could provide access to divine favor and benefits (Mt 8:8-10; 9:18,28). When 
one suppliant expresses an ounce of doubt about Jesus' ability in this regard, 
Jesus takes issue with him (Mk 9:22-24). When encountering the trust of the 
Syro-Phoenician woman, Jesus even alters his determination to channel God's 
favors to the people of Israel (the stated mission of his earthly ministry) since 
his generous character compels him to respond graciously to such trust (Mt 
15:22-28). Some who had been benefitted by Jesus find ways to offer him a 
service in turn. For example, Peter's mother-in-law responds to Jesus' healing 
by taking the lead in offering hospitality (Lk 4:38-39), and the women who had 
been healed or exorcized now support financially the ministry of the One who 
benefitted them (Lk 8:1-3). Finally, Jesus' benefactions motivate praise of 
God, showing people's awareness of the ultimate source of these benefits, as 
ofair'good gifts" (Lk 7:16; 17:15-18; 18:43; 19:37; Acts 4:21).'° 

The crowning benefaction conferred by Jesus is, of course, his 
voluntary death by means of which he grants deliverance from sin, death, and 
the power of Satan.'" A prominent feature of passages speaking about this 

57 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

deliverance is the great cost that Jesus incuired upon himself (e.g., "gave 
himself for us," "died on our behalf," and the like) to bring us these 
benefactions.''^ It often happened that a benefactor would put himself at risk 
and even incur great personal loss to bring benefits to others. Paul articulates 
the model as it would be practiced by the "best" or most generous of people 
(Rom 5:6-8; see also Jn 15:13), and indeed it was considered the height of 
generosity to give one's life for the good of another (hence the extreme honor 
showed to those who died in battle to protect a city). Jesus, then, is primarily 
celebrated as one who spent his all bringing us good: "You know the generous 
act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he 
became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9);''" "He 
it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and 
purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds" (Tit 
2:14). This topic is widely utilized by New Testament authors to explain how 
a degrading execution was in reality a noble, beneficial death, and to stimulate 
our gratitude and sound the depths of the return we are to make by underscoring 
the costliness of Jesus' act of favor. Most poignant in this regard is2 Cor 5:15: 
"he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but 
for him who died and was raisedybr them.'' 

By means of his death, by which the memory of our sins is wiped 
away (in our conscience as well as the mind of God, Heb 9:9-14; 10:17), and 
now by means of his ongoing priesthood,'''' Jesus has opened up for his clients 
access to God the Father, the great Patron. He achieves for those who rely on 
him what neither angels, nor Moses, nor generations of Levitical priests had 
been able to provide,"^ namely direct access to God's "throne of favor," giving 
human beings the boldness to enter that holy space in the assurance of finding 
"mercy and favor for timely help" (Heb 4:14-16), having effectively removed 
all that stood in the way of God's favor, namely sins (Heb 10:1-14). Many 
passages of the New Testament emphasize that Jesus is the sole grantor of 
access to the Father (see Mt 1 1:27; Jn 14:6; 1 Tim 2:5), placing him in the 
familiar role of "broker," whose principal gift is connection with another patron 
(the whole work of reconciliation is an aspect of securing this relationship and 
prerequisite to conferring the access the Christian now enjoys)."^ 

In the Gospels, Jesus makes his disciples mediators of divine favor as 
well, conferring on them the grant of authority to do the things he had been 
doing (healing, exorcizing, teaching). After his ascension, his benefaction 
continues through the work of his apostles, who publicly attest that Jesus' 
"beneficence" (euergesia) stood behind the healing of the lame man in the 
Temple (Acts 4:9- 1 0). The disciples appear at first to have understood their role 
as analogous to other middle-level brokers of access to a great person: they are 
the gate-keepers (note how they attempt to regulate the flow of access to Jesus 

58 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

in Mk 10:13-14), and jealously guard that privilege (Mk 9:38-39). Jesus must 
teach them that, in the kingdom that God is building, being a mediator of the 
great Patron's favor is not to become the means to build up one's own power 
base or enhance the perception of one's importance as a channel of divine 
favor, monopolizing access to Jesus and God's favor (Lk 9:49-50). Instead, 
although they do go out as brokers of Jesus (Mt 10:40; Jn 13:20), they are not 
giving with a view to receiving honor or thanks or service from the recipients 
of the favors they mediate, but are to give as a response to having received 
themselves from God (Mt 10:1, 8). As if by way of extreme lesson, teaching 
those who enter into Christ's service that they do so not to enhance their own 
prestige and power through collecting clients, Jesus elevates those with whom 
no worldly-minded person would think it advantageous to "network," namely 
the weak, the little ones, as also his brokers and thus brokers of the One who 
sent Jesus (Mt 18:5; Mk 9:37; Lk 9:46-48). Not only does this remedy the 
wrong view of our brokering role as disciples, but it directs us ever against our 
cultural wisdom to network with the needy — the "unconnected!" — as the 
way to connect with Jesus. 

Reception of "power from on high" after Jesus' ascension (Luke 
24:49; Acts 1 :8), which continues to place the apostles in a mediatorial role, 
stands in parallel with the authority and offices sought for as "favors" by local 
elites or semi-elites from those above them in the political chain of command. 
Such a gift brought with it both the obligations of the office (which could be 
quite burdensome) and the power and prestige of the office (from which angle 
it was indeed a benefit). Paul views his own apostleship this way as well: it is 
a great honor (hence a great favor from God, as in Rom 1 :5; "the grace that had 
been given to me," Gal 2:9) that has at the same time obligated him to serve 
people (Rom 1:14), to discharge an office zealously and at great expense to 
himself for the good of others. Being granted a privileged office, Paul becomes 
the mediator himself of divine favor, if only as the one who brings the 
announcement (the good news) about Jesus the One Mediator who reconciles 
us to God. He presents himself consistently as acting on behalf of the 
believers, bringing them spiritual blessing, and often incurring great costs and 
braving great dangers and pains to bring them these benefits.''^ The believers 
are thus obligated to Paul,^^ even as God obligated Paul to execute his office. 
They are not to despise his sufferings and his manual labor, since it is all "for 
them" (see especially 2 Cor 1 :3-7; 4:7- 1 5) 

Jesus' favor is certainly not presented in terms of past generosity only. 
Hebrews, as we have noted, underscores his present mediatorial assistance in 
securing access to God for us, to which one may add his ongoing intercession 
on behalf of his own before the Father (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25; 1 Jn 2: 1 ). This 
is presented primarily in terms of the removal of sins and their potential damage 

59 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

to the relationship of favor, but one suspects that the author of Hebrews has in 
mind Jesus' interest in securing for the beUevers all the divine assistance they 
need to arrive at the end of their journey. In their midst of their trials and 
temptations (not just wrestling with particular sins, but wrestling with finding 
the strength to continue to endure society's insults and abuse for their 
association with Jesus), Jesus "lays hold of and "helps" the believers (Heb 
2:16-18). Through his intimate acquaintance with their condition, he knows 
what specific assistance they will need from the "throne of favor." 

This continued intercession and assistance itself points to the great 
gifts that are yet to come: we need Christ's assistance in overcoming those 
obstacles that threaten to despoil us of that prize. The New Testament authors 
point the believers consistently forward to the future benefaction, promised, 
awaited now in trust ("faith") and hope. Through Jesus, believers look forward 
to receiving the redemption of our bodies, which Paul equates with the 
realization of our adoption as sons and daughters (Rom 8:23), namely the 
transformation of our mortal body (Phil 3 :20-2 1 ) into the resurrection body, the 
"tent not made with hands" (2 Cor 5:1-5; 1 Thess 4:14). This is the "promise 
of life" (2 Tim 1:1) that we await in hope (Tit 1 :2). Having been made heirs 
(Tit 3:7; 1 Pet 3:7), believers do not yet "possess," so that believers still await 
reception of the promised inheritance (Eph 1:13-14; 1 Pet 1:4). Other images 
used to describe this future, impending grant from God are "deliverance" 
effected at Jesus' return (1 Thess 1:10; 5:9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5, 9, 13), 
entrance into "rest" (Heb 4:1-1 1), or our heavenly city (Heb 11:16; 13:14), 
namely New Jerusalem (Rev 2 1 :2-7), a share in Christ's honor (glory, 2 Thess 
2:14; 1 Pet 5:10; Heb 2:10) and reign (Rev 5:10). When the Christian enjoys 
these benefactions, he or she has at last received the "hope" laid up for God's 
faithful clients in heaven (Col 1 :5). 

Mindful of the many benefits God has already conferred in Christ, and 
that Christ has secured for the Christians, the believers are left by the New 
Testament authors in a posture of hope and anticipation: "Set all your hope on 
the grace [charin, better rendered "gift" in this context] that Jesus Christ will 
bring when he is revealed" (1 Pet 1:13; NRSV). The history of God's 
generosity toward the Christian community gives strong assurance that these 
future gifts will not fail to be granted, hence bolsters "faith" or "trust."''^ The 
hope of this gift of unending life in God's realm becomes the "anchor of the 
soul" (Heb 6:19-20): as the addressees of these texts keep their hope and 
yearning for this gift strong, these authors know, the Christians' own firmness 
and reliability in their loyalty toward Jesus and their orientation toward their 
divine Patron will be similarly strong. 

The tendency of New Testament authors to speak of Jesus as "Savior" 
is also in keeping with his role as benefactor, for the term was applied as an 

60 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

honorary term to great and powerful figures who brought a city deliverance 
from an enemy, provided famine relief, and removed other threats to the well- 
being and stability of a group of people. '°° The believers have already 
experienced many aspects of his saving activity, namely deliverance 
("salvation") from sin (Mt 1 :2 1 ; Acts 5 :3 1 ) or from the godlessness and slavery 
to the passions of the flesh that characterized our life prior to experiencing 
God's kindness (Tit 3 :3-5). This Savior (or Deliverer) has conquered death and 
opened up the way to unending life (2 Tim 1:10); his beneficiaries, however, 
still await other aspects of this act of "deliverance" (Heb 1:14; 1 Pet 1:5, 9): 
deliverance from the wrath of God on the day of Judgment (Rom 5:9); the final 
deliverance from mortality that will come on that anticipated day when the 
Savior "that we are expecting" returns (Phil 3:20-21). 

Making a Gracious Response 

"Since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us show gratitude" 
(echomen charin, Heb 12:28). One of the more important contributions an 
awareness of the ethos of "grace" in the first-century world can make is 
implanting is our minds the necessary connection between receiving and 
responding, between "favor" and "gratitude" in its fullest sense. Because we 
think about the "grace" of God through the lens of sixteenth-century Protestant 
polemics against "earning salvation by means of pious works," we have a 
difficult time hearing the New Testament's own affirmation of the simple, yet 
noble and beautiful, circle of grace. God has acted generously, and Jesus has 
granted great and wonderful gifts. These were not earned, but "grace" is never 
earned in the ancient world (this, again, is not something that sets New 
Testament "grace" apart from everyday "grace"). Once favor has been shown 
and gifts conferred, however, the result must invariably be that the recipient 
will show gratitude, will answer "grace" with "grace." The indicative and the 
imperative of the New Testament are held together by this circle of grace: we 
must respond generously and fully, for God has given generously and fully. "^' 

How are Christians directed to respond to the beneficence of God in 
Christ? The first component of a fulsome response of gratitude is simply 
giving thanks to the Giver. "When we have decided that we ought to accept, 
let us accept cheerfully, professing our pleasure and letting the giver have proof 
of it in order that he may reap instant reward. Let us show how grateful we are 
for the blessing that has come by pouring forth our feelings" (Seneca, Ben. 
2.22.1). Exuberant thanksgiving characterizes the worship of Israel (see Ps 
92: 1-4; 95: 1-2; 103; 138; Sir 5 1:1-12), and wasto mark the lives andgatherings 
ofChristiansaswell(Eph5:4, 19-20; Col 3:15, 17; 4:2; 1 Thess5:18). Paul 
provides his churches with a remarkable model for thanksgiving, rendering 
praise to God for all progress in the churches (evidence to him of God's 

61 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

nurturing and equipping: Rom 1:8; 1 Cor 1:4-7; Col 1:3-4; 1 Thess 3:9), for 
every deliverance from hardship or trouble (2 Cor 1:9-11 ), and for the work that 
God was accomplishing through him (2 Cor 2:14). Paul's example teaches us 
to be mindful ever of God's past gifts and watchful for the signs of God's 
continued assistance and gifting at work in our lives and in our churches, so 
that we can give God thanks as the firstfruits, as it were, of grateful hearts (Col 
1:12;2:7). 

"Let us bear witness to them, not merely in the hearing of the giver, 
but everywhere" (Seneca, Ben. 2.22.1). Recipients of God's favor should 
therefore zealously seek the increase of God's honor or, better, the increase of 
the recognition of God's honor and generosity. The author of Ephesians shares 
the assumption of an Aristotle or a Seneca, namely that beneficence rightly 
results in the augmented renown and praise of the giver. So also God's 
generosity revealed in Jesus flows "unto the praise of the honor of his 
generosity (charis) with which he graced {echaritosen) us in the Beloved" (Eph 
1 :6; see also 1:12, 14). It falls to the recipient of favor to testify to the favor 
and bring honor to the giver: the believers are now "to announce the virtuous 
deeds {aretai) of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvellous 
light" (1 Pet 2:10)."^^ Showing gratitude to God in the first instance means 
proclamation of God's favors and publicly acknowledging one's debt to (and 
thus association with) Jesus, the mediator through whom we have access to 
God's favor (Lk 12:8-9).'*'^ A grateful heart is the source of evangelism and 
witness, which is perhaps most effectively done as we simply and honestly give 
God public praise for the gifts and help we have received from God. Perhaps 
some shrink from "evangelism" because they think they need to work the hearer 
through Romans, or discourse on the two natures of Christ. Begin by speaking 
openly, rather, about the favor God has shown you, the positive difference 
God's gifts have made in your life: tell other people facing great need about the 
One who supplies every need generously. 

Words are not the only medium for increasing God's honor. Jesus 
directed his followers to pursue a life of "good works" which would lead those 
seeing them to "give honor to your Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5 : 1 6). '°^ As 
believers persist in pursuing "noble deeds," those who now slander them will 
come to "glorify God" at the judgement (1 Pet 2:1 1-12). A particular "good 
work" and "noble deed" is benefaction: abundance in this ministry "overflows 
with many thanksgivings to God" (2 Cor 9:1 1-12). Living worthily of God's 
call, that is, walking in the life of virtue made possible through God's gift of the 
Spirit, also results in the increase of the honor given Jesus' name (2 Thess 1:11- 
1 2). By telling others of God's gifts, and by being zealous for virtue and well- 
doing, we have opportunity to advance our great Patron's reputation in this 
world, possibly leading others in this way to seek to attach themselves to so 

62 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

good a benefactor. 

Besides bringing honor to one's patron, it was also a vital part of 
gratitude to show loyalty to one's patron. Attachment to a patron could become 
costly,'"^ should that patron have powerful enemies. Being grateful — owning 
one's association and remaining committed to that patron — could mean great 
loss (Seneca, Ep. 81.27). True gratitude entails, however, setting the 
relationship of "grace" above considerations of what is at the moment 
advantageous.'"^ First-century Christians often faced, as so many international 
Christians in this century continue to face, choosing between loyalty to God and 
personal safety. For this reason, several texts underscore the positive results 
of enduring hostility and loss for their commitment. 1 Pet 1 :6-9 interprets the 
believers' present experiences of testing as an opportunity for them to 
demonstrate the firmness of their commitment to their Divine Patron. Even 
though the mediator of their salvation, Jesus, is presently unseen, they love him 
and persist in trust toward him. The end result of keeping this trust firm is the 
preservation of their souls. Their joy in this interim is an outward witness to 
their confidence in their Patron to deliver what has been promised. 

Suffering on account of association with the name of Jesus is 
considered a gift from God (Phil 1:29-30; 1 Pet 2:18-21).'°' Loyalty to God 
even in the face of suffering is a gift insofar as it brings one in line with 
Christ's example, so that "you may follow in his footsteps" (2 Pet 2:2 1 ). It is 
the ultimate destination of that path that makes suffering for the name of Christ 
a gift now, namely the deliverance and honor that God will give to those who 
commit themselves to him, trusting him ( 1 Pet 3 : 1 4; 4: 1 3, 1 9; cf. Jesus' posture 
in 2:23). Given the cost Jesus was willing to incur in bringing us into God's 
favor, the believer should be emboldened to make a like return, leaving behind 
worldly comfort, honor, and safety for the sake of responding to Jesus (Heb 
13:12-13). Loyalty to God means being careful to avoid courting God's 
enemies as potential patrons as well. In the first century, this meant not 
participating in rites that proclaimed one's indebtedness to the gods whose 
favor non-Christians were careful to cultivate (whether the Greco-Roman 
pantheon or the emperor: 1 Cor 10:14-21; Rev 14:6-13). If avoidance of such 
rituals meant losing the favor of one's human patrons, this was but the cost of 
loyalty to the Great Patron. One could not be more concerned with the 
preservation of one's economic and social well-being than living out a grateful 
response to the One God (Mt 6:24; Lk 12:8-9). 

The other side of loyalty is trust (quite literally, s\x\cq pistis referred 
to both). As seen already in 1 Pet 1 :6-9, believers endured society's hostility 
not only out of gratitude for God's past gifts, but trusting firmly in the future 
benefactions of God, specifically the deliverance about to be revealed at the 
second coming (1 :5, 13). At stake in Galatia, from Paul's perspective, was the 

63 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

Christian community's trust in Jesus' ability to secure God's favor for them. 
If they were to seek to secure God's favor for themselves on the basis of works 
of Torah, this would now amount to a vote of "no confidence" in Jesus' 
mediation, to which they had previously committed themselves (and by means 
of which they had already received the Holy Spirit, 3:1-5). The result would 
be alienation from Jesus, who would no longer "benefit" those who distrusted, 
and ultimately from God's favor itself (Gal 2:20-21 ; 5:2-4). Firm trust in God 
becomes a source of "stability" for the believer, allowing him or her, in turn, 
to be a reliable client of God and friend of fellow-believers (Col 1 :5). Jesus' 
own stability — the fact that he is the same person today as yesterday, and will 
still remain such tomorrow — provides the suitable platform for a stable trust 
(Heb 13:7-8).'°' 

Clients would return gratitude in the form not only on honor and 
loyalty, but also in services performed for the patron, it is here that good 
works, acts of obedience, and the pursuit of virtue are held together inseparably 
with the reception of God's favor and kindnesses. A life of obedience to Jesus' 
teachings and the apostles' admonitions — in short, a life of good works — are 
not offered to gain favor from God, but nevertheless they must be offered in 
grateful response to God. To refuse these is to refuse the Patron who gave his 
all for us the return He specifically requests from us. Paul well understands 
how full our response should be: if Jesus gave his life for us, we fall short of 
a fair return unless we live our lives for him (2 Cor 5:14-15; Gal 2:20). 

God's acts on our behalf become the strongest motivation for specific 
Christian behaviors. For example, Paul reminds the Corinthian church that, 
since they were ransomed for a great price, they are no longer their own 
masters: they owe it to their redeemer to use their bodies now as pleases him ( 1 
Cor 6: 1 2-20). '"'' In more general terms, he reminds the Roman Christians that 
their experience of deliverance from sin and welcome into God's favor leaves 
them obliged now to use their bodies and lives to serve God, as once they 
served sin: they are "debtors," not to the flesh, but to the God who delivered 
them and will deliver them (8:12)."° Such righteous conduct is always itself 
the result of God's enabling, God making us able even to offer a suitable 
response to his favor (Rom 8:2-4; Phil 1:11; Heb 13:20-21; 2 Pet 1:3-4). The 
fact that such resources are provided, however, makes it all the more incumbent 
upon the Christians to avail themselves of God's abundant supply and to make 
use of them rather than neglect them. 

A prominent kind of exhortation in the New Testament promotes 
imitation of the virtues and generosity displayed by God and Jesus. First, Jesus 
enjoins the recipients of God's favor to imitate God's beneficence (see Mt 
5:43-48; Lk 6:27-36). He challenges normal limits of reciprocity and 
generosity, setting rather as the standard God's example.'" Christians are 

64 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

directed to be benefactors to their non-Christian neighbors ( 1 Thess 3 : 1 2; 5 : 1 5), 
especially in the face of antagonism, so as to silence slander by "doing good" 
(1 Pet 2:15). The logic of these exhortations is consistently to respond in 
accordance with what benefactions one has received, whether "pardon" (or 
forgiveness, Mt 6:14-15; 18:23-35; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13), Jews and Gentiles 
extending welcome and acceptance within the church since they have each been 
welcomed freely by Christ (Rom 1 5 :7), loving one another as Christ had shown 
love for us (Eph 5:2; 1 Jn 4:1 1), being more mindful of the interests of others 
than our own interests and recognition, as Christ gave example when he poured 
himself out for our benefit (Phil 2:1-1 1), laying down our lives to help one 
another, and this often in very practical and material demonstrations, because 
Jesus laid down his life to help us ( 1 Jn 3 : 1 6- 1 8). 

Another angle from which New Testament authors approach this 
response of service is calling Christians to be mindful of fulfilling God's 
purposes for us in giving us what he has and doing for us what he has done — 
that is to say, using God's gifts rightly and to their proper end."^ God's 
patience toward the sinner is a gift meant to lead the sinner to repentance, "the 
riches of God's kindness" to bring about a change of heart (Rom 2:4). Failure 
to use this gift correctly shows that one "despises" God's kindness, and results 
in wrath. God'sgift of freedom in Christ is neither to be set aside (Gal 5:1) nor 
used for purposes that do not honor or please God (Gal 5:13); rather, this 
freedom is an opportunity for love and service to fellow believers. Both Tit 
2:11-14 and 2 Pet 1:4 focus on the transformation of our lives from lives 
marked by "the corruption that is in the world because of lusf or by "impiety 
and worldly passions" into "lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly," 
reflecting our participation "in the divine nature." Sanctification, in essence, 
is simply a right response to God's gifts, putting the resources God has made 
available for holiness in Christ to good and proper use. 

Similarly, Paul and the author of 1 Peter speak frequently of the ways 
in which God has gifted individual believers for the good of the whole church. 
Divine endowments of this kind (whether teaching, prophetic utterance, 
wisdom, tongues, or even monetary contributions) become opportunities and 
obligations for service. The proper response to receiving such gifts is not 
boasting ( 1 Cor 4:7), which in effect suppresses the acknowledgment that these 
qualities stem from God's endowment, but sharing God's gifts with the whole 
church and the world. We are to exercise stewardship of the varied gifts that 
God has granted with the result that the honor and praise offered to God 
increases (1 Pet 4:10-1 1)."^ 

Commitment to respond as grateful recipients is reinforced throughout 
the New Testament by the assurance that such a response keeps one centered 
in God's favor and leads to future benefactions from God. "You are my friends 

65 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

if you do what I command you.... I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that 
will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name" (Jn 
15:14-16). Obedience leads to a "friendship" relationship with Jesus and 
access to and assurance of God's personal patronage (God's willingness to hear 
and answer believers' petitions; see also Jn 14:14-17). Jesus is the "source of 
eternal deliverance for those who obey him" (Heb 5:9), the author of Hebrews 
especially motivating perseverance in gratitude by keeping the addressees 
focused on "salvation" as something they are "about to inherit" (Heb 1 : 14) at 
Christ's second coming (Heb 9:28). Both 1 Pet 3: 12 (quoting Ps 34: 16) and 1 
Jn 3:21-22 affirm that "obeying what God commands" brings assurance that 
God remains favorable to the Christians' petitions. In a passage that has been 
helpfully compared with the very form of the honorary decree commemorating 
benefactors, "'' the author of 2 Peter suggests that responding properly to God's 
ample provision for godliness meant the believers' "supplying alongside" 
God's provision our own zeal to bear the most fruit with the seed God plants 
within us (1:3-10). Such a lifestyle, demonstrating mindfulness of God's past 
benefactions of cleansing from sin and God's "precious and great promises" 
(meant to give us the impetus to rise above worldly corruption), leads to the 
final benefit: "entrance into the eternal kingdom" will "be abundantly supplied 
to you" (1:11).'" 

Ungraceful Responses to God's Beneficence 

The Christian Scriptures also present the danger of failing to attain 
God's gift (Heb 12:15), of "receiving God's gift in vain" (2 Cor 6:1). Just as 
living out a response of gratitude assures the believer of God's favor in the 
future, so responding to God's favor with neglect, ingratitude, or even contempt 
threatens to make one "fall from favor" (Gal 5:4) resulting in the danger of 
exclusion from future benefactions. When attempting to dissuade their 
audiences from a particular course of action, the New Testament authors will 
show the hearers how such a course of action is inconsistent with the 
obligations of gratitude, and how such a course threatens to turn the affronted 
Patron's favor into wrath. 

In effect, refusal or neglect of the sorts of acts described above as 
constituting a response demonstrating gratitude would mean that the recipient 
of priceless favors broke the circle of grace and brought the dance to a strident 
halt. Disowning Jesus (Mt 1 0:32-33), failing to honor God or return reverence 
(Rom 1:21; Rev 9:20-21; 16:9, 1 1), failing to use God's gifts for their intended 
purposes (Jude 4; Rom 2:4-5), showing distrust toward God or Jesus, faltering 
rather than acting on their promises (Gal 1:6; 2:21; 5:2-4; Jas 1:6-7; Heb 3:12, 
19), showing disloyalty by making alliances with God's enemies (Jas 4:4; Rev 
14:9-11), and responding to the divine patron's call for service with 

66 



Ashland Theological Journal 3] {\ 999) 

disobedience (Heb 3:18-19), such as brings God's name into dishonor (Rom 
2:1 7-24), are all ugly and unsuitable courses of action in light of the generosity 
and favor God has lavished upon the Christians. Such actions show gross 
forgetfulness of these benefits,"^ and provoke God by meeting his favor and 
kindness with insult and abuse. 

The sermon "'to the Hebrews" provides strong examples of these topics 
at work."^ Here was a congregation that had faced a time of painful hostility, 
reproach, abuse, and marginalization ( 10:32-34), some members of which were 
finding their association with the Christian group less valuable than returning 
to the good favor of society ( 10:25). The author strongly urges the believers to 
resist any pull that leads them to "drift away" from a straight course toward the 
good goal that God has set for them. They must "press forward to perfection" 
(6:1), since 

it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have 

once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, 

and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the 

goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to 

come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are 

crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to 

contempt. Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it 

repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for 

whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if 

it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the 

verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over (6:4-8; 

NRSV). 

The audience is described as having received several important gifts from God 

("enlightenment," the Holy Spirit, the unspecified "heavenly gift") as well as 

foretastes of the benefactions yet to come. How, then, could they think of 

falling away? Such an act would display contempt for the gifts and the Giver, 

bringing public disgrace on Jesus rather than enhancing his honor as they testify 

to their neighbors: "you were right; Jesus' favor is not worth the cost of 

remaining associated with his name." The agricultural illustration that closes 

the paragraph teaches that God's gifts (here, rain) look for a return, a "suitable 

crop"; if the land bears instead what is unpleasant and unprofitable, it has only 

the fire to look forward to."^ The author asserts that God has carefully 

cultivated the believers through abundance of gifts to be "fruitful soil" for him, 

to bear "suitable vegetation for those on whose behalf [they] were cultivated," 

namely acts of love and service for their fellow-believers (6:9-10), remaining 

reliable and faithful supports to one another in the face of society's shaming 

techniques. How could they, then, think of bearing the prickly thorns of 

defection, or shirking their responsibilities to help one another and support one 

67 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

another through their common pilgrimage?"'' 

This passage has stood at the center of the theological controversy of 
eternal security as opposed to the possibility of believers committing an 
unpardonable sin. The author of Hebrews, however, moves in a social ethos in 
which recipients of benefactions are led to act with one set of considerations in 
view (namely, the importance of maintaining a response of gratitude and 
avoiding any course which would show ingratitude toward a patron) while 
benefactors are led to act with another set of considerations in view (with an 
emphasis on exercising generosity and magnanimity). Most poignant in this 
regard is Seneca's advice to the patron who has met with ingratitude not to be 
afraid to give a second gift, in the hope that, as the farmer works the 
unproductive soil, this new gift will awaken gratitude and loyalty in all their 
fullness {Ben. 7.32). The doctrine of eternal security threatens to distract us, 
who are clearly in the role of clients, from focusing on what is our proper 
business, namely maintaining our commitment to return grace for grace; 
attempts to set limits on God's generosity, on the other hand, also impinge on 
what is not properly ours, namely God's freedom to give even to one who has 
proven ungrateful in the extreme. The scriptural witness creates the same sort 
of tension discovered in Greco-Roman texts on patronage — warning clients 
about the grave perils of ingratitude and the exclusion from favor it brings, but 
also extolling the patron whose generosity is greater than the ingratitude of 
some recipients. It is a healthy tension, and choosing one side to the exclusion 
of the other would be a misstep in the dance of grace. 

Christian Giving 

It seems appropriate to give some space in this chapter to the topic of 
Christian giving, and to the New Testament interpretation of acts of benefaction 
and patronage within the new community. Jesus had much to say about 
beneficence toward the poor. Charity leads to lasting (eternal) wealth (Lk 
2:33; 14:12-14; 16:9; 18:22), with the result that Jesus urges all his hearers to 
"sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not 
wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven"(Lk 12:33).'"° The concept that one's 
true possessions are what one gives away was known to Seneca,'"' although 
Seneca would have advised a more "judicious" (from a worldly point of view) 
deployment of benefits than Jesus, who tells us to seek out those who have no 
means of repayment, so that God will repay us "at the resurrection of the 
righteous" (Lk 14:12-14). The striking vision of Mt 25:31-46, in which the 
righteous are separated from the wicked on the basis of beneficence toward the 
needy, surprises the hearers and readers by asserting that providing food and 
clothing and comfort to the needy is the way to "return the favor" to the One 
who has given us all we need for our well-being and survival (gifts of food and 

68 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

clothing, for example: Mt 6:11, 25-33). We have the opportunity to make a 
gracious return to our Lord and benefactor in the person of the poor or the 
oppressed. 

Especially in the letters of Paul one finds a remarkable transformation 
of the cultural code of patronage. Monetary contributions and other forms of 
assistance or beneficence within the local church or between cells of the 
Church universal remains a source of recognition and honor. Paul honors the 
Macedonian Christians for their generosity by praising them to the Corinthian 
congregations (2 Cor 8; 1 -5; 11 :9), amplifying their virtue by stressing that they 
did not let their own poverty hinder their generosity.'"' Paul includes in his 
letters remembrances of individuals who have undergone expense or exercised 
beneficence for his good or the good of the church. He announces that he is 
himself, together with "'all the churches of the Gentiles," indebted to Prisca and 
Aquila, who "risked their necks for [Paul's] life," thus who displayed the 
greatest generosity (Rom 16:3-4). Paul calls for public honors to be given 
Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus for their service ("so give recognition to 
such persons," 1 Cor 16:17-18). He makes special mention of the service of 
Epaphroditus, a person who, acting as the agent or vehicle of the Philippian 
church's support of Paul, spends himself to the uttermost (he endures illness 
even almost to death). Such a person, Paul declares, merits honor in the 
community (Phil 2:29-30). Since the letters are public documents, read before 
the gathered assembly of believers, such mention amounts to a public 
announcement of the individual's generosity and brings him or her honor in the 
congregation. 

Nevertheless, benefaction within the church is a specific gift of God: 
it is a manifestation of God's patronage of the community, mediated through 
its members (Rom 12:6-8; Eph 4:7, 1 1-12).''^ Alongside and among spiritual 
endowments and edifying services like prophecy, tongues, teaching and words 
of knowledge, God also bestows the gift of giving to achieve God's purposes 
in the family of God. God supplies all things, so that Christians are called to 
share on the basis of their kinship responsibilities toward one another in the 
church rather than use gifts of money and hospitality to build up their client 
base (the source of local prestige and power).'"'' This is a bold transformation 
of patronage into stewardship. 

Patronage and benefaction are therefore removed from the realm of 
competition among humans for honor and accumulation of power — a message 
as relevant today as ever. Indeed, participating in relief efforts is presented as 
much as a favor granted the givers as a favor done by the givers. The collection 
for the poor in the Judean churches is perhaps the most prominent act of 
beneficence among the churches in the New Testament (Acts 1 1 :29; Rom 
15:26-27; 2 Cor 8-9). Paul views this, however, not as an act of human 

69 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

patronage, but as God's beneficence working itself out through responsive 
Christians (2 Cor 9:8-15; God "supplies" (epichoregeo) the resources which 
meet the needs of the Corinthians fully and give them "abundance for every 
good deed"), so that ultimately God rightly receives the thanks for the donation 
(2 Cor 9:1 1-12). Participation in the relief effort is a "favor" for which the 
Macedonian Christians earnestly "begged" Paul (2 Cor 8:4). The Judean 
Christians reciprocate with prayer on behalf of the Gentile Christians (2 Cor 
9:14).'-- An important motive for giving is supplied by Paul in his interjection 
of Christ's generous example, who "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he 
became poor" (2 Cor 8:9). Participating in the relief effort is a means of 
honoring the divine benefactor (9: 1 3) by imitating his generosity: his example 
should spur them on in this endeavor. Moreover, since the Corinthians have 
been enriched by Christ (8:9) and by God (9:10-1 1) in so many ways, they are 
honor-bound to use the riches entrusted to them for God's purposes, namely 
relieving the needs of the saints. 

Much tension within contemporary churches could be relieved if we 
took to heart Paul's "paradigm shift" for patronage. Those who contribute to 
the local church do not lay the minister or the congregation under obligation, 
but are enacting faithfully their service to God (and ought to be honored on that 
basis). They give not in order to secure a return (usually in the form of power 
and influence within the local church), but because God has given. 

Conclusion 

Growing in our understanding of the social contexts of "grace" 
contributes to our reading of the New Testament in several ways. We become 
more attuned to the gifts God has granted to those who approach him through 
his Son, and are reminded of the favors God has promised for the future, it 
keeps our focus returning to these, so that God's benefits remain always on our 
minds (rather than neglected or forgotten as we go about our daily lives). Paul 
prays in the opening of Ephesians that Christians be made mindful of the 
magnificence of God's generosity (Eph 1:3,7-11, 17-19). Indeed we should 
return frequently to meditate upon the immensity of God's favor both in terms 
of his general benefactions (life, salvation, a future of hope) as well as in terms 
of his personal patronage, the ways in which his favor has entered into our own 
lives at our points of need. Our awareness of God's generosity and our 
indebtedness to God will in this way become the focal points for our 
understanding of our lives, with the result that the cares of the world, as well 
as its promises, are less like to distract and entangle us. 

The fundamental ethos governing relationships of patrons and the 
clients, benefactors and beneficiaries, and friends is that grace must answer 
grace: the receiving of favor must lead to the return of gratitude, or else the 

70 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

beauty and nobility of the relationship is defaced (dis-graced). As we grow in 
our appreciation of God's beneficence, we are thereby impelled to energize our 
commitment to make an appropriate response of gratitude to God. When the 
magnitude of God's generosity is considered, gratitude and its fruits must of 
necessity fill our speech, attitudes, and actions. 

The New Testament authors outline what a just and suitable response 
would entail, guiding us to act as honorable recipients of favor and averting us 
from making an ugly response of ingratitude, neglect, or disloyalty, which 
would also lead to the danger of exclusion from future favors yet to be 
conferred. We come to engage evangelism more naturally (but also necessarily) 
not now as a contest for winning souls, but as an opportunity to spread the fame 
of God and testily to the good things God has done in our behalf The 
obligations of gratitude demand that we not hold our tongue in this regard! We 
begin to understand that obedience to God ~ throwing ourselves and our 
resources into the work of caring for the global church — is not something we 
might do "over and above" the demands of everyday life. Rather, these pursuits 
are placed at the center of each day's agenda. As God did not bestow on us 
what was merely left over after he satisfied himself, so we are called upon to 
make a like exchange by giving our all and our best to God's service first. 
Moreover, we discover that loyalty to such a patron must be preserved without 
wavering. This can embolden us in our struggles with our own sins, as we 
consider how indulging them enacts disloyalty toward the One we should only 
please. It can also embolden our confrontations with an unbelieving world that 
finds whole-hearted loyalty to this God and his ways a threat and reproach to 
its way of life. Gratitude provides a clarifying focus to the Christian for his or 
her life, a single value that, lived out as the New Testament authors direct, will 
result in a vibrant, fruitful discipleship. 

Finally, as we read the pages of the New Testament with an eye to 
promises of favor, we become more highly sensitized to the way these authors 
seek to instill in us such a hope for, and trust in, God's promised benefactions 
that we will have firmness and fixedness in the midst of this life's chances and 
changes. Such an undivided hope provides an anchor for the soul and the 
means for stability and reliability in our Christian commitment. As our 
ambitions are all channelled toward the good gifts that God has prepared for us, 
we, like the early Christians, will find it easier to detach ourselves from the 
trivial pursuits and rewards promoted by the society around us and remain 
constant in our orientation toward the Divine Patron. 

Endnotes 

' See Haivor Moxnes, "Patron-Client Relations and the New Community in Luke- Acts," 
in The Social World of Luke-Acts, ed. J. H.Neyrey (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991), 



71 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

241-268, pp. 242-244. 

^ Rightly, J. H. Elliott, "Patronage and Clientism in Early Christian Society," Forum 3 

(1987):39-48, p. 40. 

^ Bonds of reciprocity (whether between social equals, called friends, or between 

patrons and their clients) could continue across the generations. A child inherits, as it 

were, his or her parents' networks of friends and enemies. Ben Sira bears witness: "he 

has left behind him an avenger against his enemies, and one to repay the kindness of his 

friends" (30:6), as does Isocrates: "it is fitting that a son should inherit his father's 

friendships even as he inherits his estate" {To Demonicus 2; LCL). See also Seneca, 

Ben. 2.18.5: "I must be far more careful in selecting my creditor for a benefit than my 

creditor for a loan. For to the latter I shall have to return the same amount that 1 have 

received, and, when 1 have returned it, I have paid all my debt and am free; but to the 

other I must make an additional payment, and, even after I have paid my debt of 

gratitude, the bond between us still holds; for, just when 1 have finished paying it, I am 

obliged to begin again, and friendship endures; and, as 1 would not admit an unworthy 

man to my friendship, so neither would I admit one who is unworthy to the most sacred 

privilege of benefits, from which friendship springs" (LCL). 

■* J. Boissevain, Friends of Friends: Networks, Manipulators and Coalitions (l^ew York: 

St. Martin's, 1974), 148. 

-"' A fuller analysis of these can be found in G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, "Suffragium: From 

Vote to Patronage," British Journal of Sociology 5 ( 1 954) 33-48. 

^ See also Sailer, Patronage, p. 75, n. 1 94: "That the mediators would have received the 

credit and gratitude from the ultimate recipient of the favor is clear from the last sentence 

of Pliny, Ep. 3.8, where Pliny secures a tribunate for Suetonius who passes it on to a 

relative, with the result that the relative is indebted to Suetonius who is in turn indebted 

to Pliny." 

^ Ad familiares 13, cited in Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, "Patronage in Roman Society: 

from Republic to Empire," in Wallace-Hadrill, Patronage in the Ancient World, 63-89, 

p. 77. 

" SeeR. P. 'idWtr {Personal Patronage under the Early Empire [Cambridge: Cambridge 

University, 1982], 8-11). Cicero {De officiis 1.56) provides this testimony: "Another 

strong bond of fellowship is effected by mutual interchange of kind services; and as long 

as these kindnesses are mutual and acceptable, those between whom they are 

interchanged are united by ties of enduring intimacy" (LCL). 

'^ Ibid., pp. 8-11; see also C. Osiek and D. Balch, Families in the New Testament World 

(Louisville, KY: W/JKP, 1997), p. 49. 

'" J. Pitt-Rivers, "Postscript: the place of grace in anthropology," in J. G. Peristiany and 

Julian Pitt-Rivers, Honor and Grace in Anthropology (Cambridge: Cambridge 

University Press, 1992), pp. 215-246. 

"Ibid., 233. 

'" See especially lines 342-5 1 ; 40 1 -404. These are ably discussed in Millett, "Patronage 

and its avoidance," pp. 19-20. 

'- Pitt-Rivers, "Postscript," 233. 

''' Josephus, fiJI.21.1I-I2. 

'""' C. Osiek and D. Balch, Families in the New Testament World (Louisville, KY: 

W/JKP, 1997), p. 50. 

72 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 {\ 999) 

"^ In Seneca's words, "'there is a great difference between not excluding a man and 
choosing him" {Ben. 4.28.5). Personal patronage involves a choice and a commitment 
to an ongoing relationship with a client. 
" See Seneca, De beneficiis 6.19.2-5. 

'" See R. P. Sailer, "Patronage and friendship in early imperial Rome: drawing the 
distinction," in Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (ed.). Patronage in Ancient Society (London: 
Routledge, 1989), 49-62, pp. 54-55; especially important is the collection of 51 
inscriptions analyzed in F. W. Danker, Benefactor: Epigraphic Study of a Graeco- 
Roman and New Testament Semantic Field {St. Louis, MO: Clayton Publishing House, 
1982). 

''^ Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 6.253e-f; quoted in Danker, Benefactor.. 202-203. 
■^" Quoted in S. R. F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman imperial cult in Asia Minor 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 1. 

^' See Paul Millett, ""Patronage and its avoidance in classical Athens," in Wallace- 
Hadrill (ed.). Patronage in Ancient Society, 15-48. 
22 Ibid., 23-25. 
2^ Ibid.. 34. 

2'' Sailer, "Patronage and Friendship," 57-58. 
2^ See the discussion also in TDNT IX:373-376. 

-'' It is in its meaning as "gift" that "grace" also refered to the qualities of ""poise," 
"charm," or "beauty" and that the adjective "graceful" was, and is, applied to '"charming, 
beautiful, skilled" people. In these cases '"graceful" means '"graced" or ""gifted." that is, 
"having received positive endowments from God or nature." 

" See the frequent occurrence of the plural ""graces" ("gifts," charitas) in the 
inscriptions collected in Danker. Benefactor (as well as the discussion on p. 328); TDNT 
IX:375 also cites the customary formula: "on account of the gifts, the xapixac,, of so- 
and-so we proclaim these honors." The Latin term beneficium is defined by Seneca as 
the equivalent of these first two meanings o^ charts {Ben. 2.34.5). The Latin word 
gratia, moreover, shares the three meanings wedded within the Greek charts. 
2" See, further, TDNT IX:376: "in relation to the recipient of grace /dpig means 
'thanks' to the benefactor." The following passages also use the expression "have 
grace" in the sense of "show thanks": Luke 1 7:9; Heb 1 2:28; on "grace" as ""thanks," see 
the expression ""thanks be to God" in Rom 6: 1 7; 7:25; 2 Cor 8: 1 6; 9: 1 5. 
2'^ Hence the saying of Sophocles {Ajax 522): "favor {charts) is always giving birth to 
favor {charin). 

'° Seneca {Ben. 6. 1 3. 1 -2) allows the giving of a benefaction to be profitable both to the 
giver and the recipient, stressing that the recipient is not released from showing 
gratitude: "'I am not so unjust as to feel under no obligation to a man who, when he was 
profitable to me, was also profitable to himself ...nay, I am also desirous that a benefit 
given to me should even be more advantageous to the giver, provided that, when he gave 
it, he was considering us both, and meant to divide it between himself and me.... I am, 
not merely unjust, I am grateful, if I do not rejoice that, while he has benefitted me, he 
has also benefitted himself (LCL). 

^' Throughout his book, Seneca stresses that benefactors and friends give "for the sake 
of giving" and not for the sake of any return {Ben. 1.2.3; 4.29.3). 
^2 Pitt-Rivers ("Postscript," 2 1 7-2 1 8) points out that the typical responses to thanks in 

73 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

English, French, Italian, and German-spealcing countries involve some equivalent of it 

was nothing" or "it was a pleasure." sayings which, in denying that obligation has been 

incurred, stresses the purity of the motive of the giver (without nullifying any obligation 

— in fact, only making that obligation felt more strongly by the recipient of favor since 

the motives are seen to have been pure). It is astounding that the moral ideal of giving 

"purely" for the sake of the recipient has persisted intact across the millennia. 

^-' Ben Sira advises: "If you do a kindness, know to whom you do it, and you will be 

thanked for your good deeds" (Sir 1 2: 1 ). advice that was remembered in the early church 

(see Didache 1 .5-6) as a good rule for giving alms (an important form of benefaction, 

which, though personal, did not initiate the ongoing relationship of patron and client). 

Cicero {De officiis 1 .45) affirms that "our love [a common way to refer to beneficence] 

must be shown to the worthy," urging his reader to consider the potential recipient's 

"character, his regard for us, his closeness to us, his usefulness to us in former services" 

when weighing the decision to give or not to give. The need to select beneficiaries and 

clients with great care is a frequent theme in Seneca (fie«. 1.1.2; 3.1 I.I: 3.14.1; 4.8.2). 

'^ Thus Isocrates {Ad Demonicam 24): "Make no man your friend before inquiring how 

he has used his former friends; for you must expect him to treat you as he has treated 

them" (LCL). 

^'' See Seneca, 5e/7. 1.10.5. 

^'' See Seneca. Ben. 2.35.3-4; 5.11.5; 1.4.3 (which uses the expression "debt of 

gratitude"). Aristotle (A'Vc. Eth. 1 l63bl2-l5)alsospeaksofthe necessity of"repaying" 

a gift, even though the kind of gifts may be vastly different (e.g., a "friend" of lesser 

means returns intangible goods like honor and fame for material goods received from a 

"friend" of greater means, i.e., a patron). 

" Cicero, De Officiis 1.48; Seneca, Ben. 1.4.3; see also Isocrates, Ad Demonicam 26: 

"Consider it equally disgraceful to be outdone by your enemies in doing injury and to 

be surpassed by your friends in going kindness (tais euergesiais)"' (LCL). See also 

Pseudo-Phocylides {Sentences, 80): "It is proper to surpass benefactors with still more." 

^"^ Thus Dio Chrysostom, Oration 31.7. Ben Sira goes so far as to suggest that the 

requital of favors "counts" as an offering to God: "He who returns a kindness 

{antapodidous charin) offers fine flour" (Sir 35:2). 

^'' Seneca {Ben. 1 .4.4) and Dio {Or. 3 1 .37) both call ingratitude an assault on the honor 

of the three Graces, and thus a wicked act of sacrilege. 

""' See also Cicero, De officiis 2.63. 

*' Quote from Anaximenes (frequently attributed to Aristotle), Rhetorica ad Alexandrum 

I42lb3-1422a2. Seneca appeals to unanimity of human opinion in this regard: "What 

is so praiseworthy, upon what are all our minds so uniformly agreed, as the repayment 

of good services with gratitude?" {Ben. 4.16.3); "Not to return gratitude for benefits is 

a disgrace, and the whole world counts it as such" {Ben. 3.1.1). 

^^ Seneca, fiert. 3.6.2; 3.17. 1-l 2. 

■^^ On the shamefulness of forgetting benefactions, see Cicero, De officiis 2.63; Seneca, 

Ben. 3.1.3; 3.2.1; on the even greater dangers of insulting one's benefactors, see 

Aristotle, Rhetoric 2.2.8 and Dio, Oration 31. Such courses of action do not only 

destroy a patron's benevolent disposition toward one, they can turn benevolence into 

virulent anger and the desire for revenge (see also Pitt-Rivers, '"Postscript," 236. 

'*'' See, again, Seneca, Ben. 1.10.5; Isocrates, Ad Demonicam 24, 29. Wallace-Hadrill 

74 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

("Patronage," 72-73) suggests, astutely in light of the perception of limited goods that 
marked the ancient world, that a patron's power came not from being able to give 
whatever was needed to whomever asked, but from the impossibility of bestowing favors 
on all who needed them: the finitude of beneficence made jockeying for limited 
resources all the more intense and enhanced the willingness of clients or would-be 
clients to vie with one another to attain the patron's favor through services, honors, and 
the like: "their success in control lay as much in their power to refuse as in their 
readiness to deliver the goods." This certainly plays out in the scene of provinces and 
cities vying for a special place in the emperor's eye, so that scarce resources would be 
diverted one way and not another. At this point an important distinction between human 
patronage and God's patronage emerges, for the latter is proclaimed as the giver of 
boundless benefits to whomever asks (Lk 1 1 :9-13; Jas 1 :5). 

■'■"' Five out of 51 inscriptions collected and translated by Danker contain these 
expressions or their near equivalents. See Danker, Benefactor, 57, 77-79, 89-9 1 , 1 52- 
53; 283-85. Cicero {De officiis 2.70) also attests that showing gratitude to present 
patrons attracts the positive attention of potential future patrons as well. 
■*'^' Dio {Or. 31.7) bears witness to the truth of these dynamics: "For those who take 
seriously their obligations toward their benefactors and mete out just treatment to those 
who have loved them, all men regard as worthy of favour {charitos axious), and without 
exception each would wish to benefit them to the best of his ability." 
''^ Seneca, Ben. 3.7.2 

""* Seneca, Ben. 6.41.1-2. Once again, Pitt-Rivers' observations of reciprocity in the 
modem Mediterranean (rural) context resonates deeply with its ancient counterpart: "A 
gift is not a gift unless it is a free gift, i.e., involving no obligation on the part of the 
receiver, and yet. ..it nevertheless requires to be returned" ("Postscript," 233); "You 
cannot pay for a favor in any way or it ceases to be one, you can only thank, though on 
a later occasion you can demonstrate gratitude by making an equally 'free' gift in return" 
("Postscript," 23 1 ). 

*'' See Dio, Or. 31.17, 20; 51.9. The first half of Danker, Benefactor, consists of 
translations and analyses of such honorary inscriptions. In Oration 66, Dio lampoons 
the "glory seeker" who spends all his or her fortune on public benefactions just to 
receive crowns, special seating, and public proclamations — "lures for the simpletons." 
•"''' Aristotle regards human patronage and the favor of the gods to be of one kind, 
different merely in terms of degree, with the result that, in the case of the gods, one 
cannot ever repay their favors and a person "is deemed virtuous if he pays them all the 
regard he can" {Nic. Eth. 1 1 63b 1 2- 18). 

"Patronage," 82. 

Thus Seneca, Ben. 4.20.2; 4.24.2. 

This is the sense of "faith" (pistis) in 4 Maccabees 13:13; 16:18-22. Seven Jewish 
brothers have the choice laid before them by the tyrant Antiochus IV: transgress Torah 
and assimilate wholly to the Greek way of life, or die miserably. The brothers choose 
to brave the tortures, keeping "faith" with the God who gave the brothers the gift of life. 
■""' See, again, 4 Maccabees 8:5-7, where King Antiochus urges the young Jewish 
brothers to "trust," or "have faith in," him for their future well-being and advancement, 
abandoning their current alliances and associations in favor of a new attachment to him. 
'^ See Sailer, "Patronage," 53-56. 

75 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

^'' During this period we have clear evidence of the intentional and aggressive 
Hellenizing of Jerusalem and Judea, led by priestly and other aristocratic Jewish 
families. See 1 Maccabees 1 and 2 Maccabees 3-4. 

''' Especially during the period of Roman rule we find Judean monarchs like Herod the 
Great continuing a strong Hellenizing and Romanizing program both in Jerusalem and 
in the creation of new cities in Galilee and coastlands. See Martin Hengel, Judaism and 
Hellenism (2 vols.; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1 977), the groundbreaking study of how 
fully Hellenized Judea and Jerusalem were by the time of Christ. The mindset that 
somehow Palestine maintained an "Old Testament" or "Hebrew" culture while the rest 
of the world went on its Hellenized way persists even in the work of otherwise excellent 
scholars (see Randall Gleason, "The Old Testament Background of the Warning in 
Hebrews 6:4-8," Bib Sac 155 [1998] 62-91, especially p. 63 and n.4), but looking to 
"Jewish" backgrounds (themselves quite Hellenized, if one considers intertestamental 
literature) to the exclusion of, or in preference to, "Greco-Roman" backgrounds is not 
consistent with what we know about the Hellenization of Palestine and the Jews' 
creative use of Hellenistic thought and culture as they re-formulated their own culture 
and religion during the centuries before Christ. 

■'''* Danker {Benefactor, 28-29) draws a correct and perceptive conclusion: "it is not 
probable that Greek or Roman bakers and shoemakers bothered to read the words of 
every dedicatory stele. Yet there would be far more acquaintance on the part of the 
general public with the themes and formulations of these documents than with the works 
of literary figures. People who had never heard of Herodotos or Sophokles would 
certainly have opened their eyes or ears when a Caesar proclaimed relief from oppressive 
legislation"; "To do hermeneutical justice, then, to public documents like those in the 
Pauline corpus — including even the Letter to Philemon — it is necessary to interpret 
them first of all in the light of linguistic data that would have been available to the larger 
public and which would have provided the necessary semantic field for understanding 
the argument of a versatile communicator like Paul." 

"■'^ E.g., wherever reception of gifts or promises from God is used as the motivation for 
some act or behavior (the frequent use of "therefore" to connect exhortation to a prior 
discourse on God's "grace" or favors and kindnesses is far from accidental or cosmetic). 
*'" See also the treatment of this passage in Moxnes, "Patron-Client Relations," 252-253. 
'^'' This may be a bold move on Paul's part, for his claim to being Philemon's patron is 
far less visible (in terms of "actual," visible favors) than Philemon's claim on the church 
and, quite likely, on Paul. 

'^'' Onesimus, who was now lodged with Paul, might not legally have been considered 
a runaway slave. Slaves who were experiencing difficulty in their masters' homes were 
known to leave the master in search of one of the master's "friends," who could plead the 
slave's case, acting as a broker between slave and master, in the hope of the slave's 
returning to a more endurable situation. Such a slave remained, in effect, within the 
master's household by fleeing to a friend of the master — making him disobedient, 
perhaps, but not a runaway. 

'^'■' This is strikingly similar to the case of Voconius Romanus in Pliny's letter to the 
emperor Trajan, discussed above. 

^'^ Just considering Luke-Acts, we have the following examples. Acts 1 0:2, 22 presents 

76 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

a second centurion, one who "gave alms generously," that is, committed himself to 
public benefaction, particularly of the poor (providing sustenance rather than 
entertainments or buildings — but still a form of public benefaction), with the result that 
he was "well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation," the recipients and observers of his 
beneficence. The opening of the speech of Tertullus before Felix (Acts 24:2-4) is filled 
with the customary praises of a beneficent ruler who has maintained peace through his 
foresight, a profession of gratitude before a new request for a favor is made. Acts 24:27 
and 25:9 show again how manipulation of the judicial process could be construed as a 
"favor" done to benefit someone or some group (recall Cicero's and Marcus Aurelius' 
attempts to secure favorable verdicts for their friends and clients). In the parable of the 
prudent steward (Lk 16:4-9), the soon-to-be-unemployed steward provides relief from 
substantial amounts of debt to the master's debtors as a benefaction, anticipating 
(indeed, counting on) the recipients to show their gratitude when he will need aid in the 
near future. In the middle of Luke's passion narrative, we find a new "friendship" 
relationship being formed (replacing former mistrust and rivalry) as Pilate and Herod 
exchange mutual courtesies (Lk 23:6-1 2). honoring one another by giving the other the 
right to decide a case. Finally, we would mention the prologues to Luke and Acts (Lk 
1:1-4; Acts 1 : 1 -2) as quite probably the literary dedication of a work to the patron whose 
support had made the leisure for research and writing possible (which would be in 
keeping with the many other dedications beginning works of literature in Greek or 
Latin). 

''■"" There is a peculiar tendency in scholarship (particularly among those claiming the title 
"evangelical") to drive wedges between the New Testament texts or early Christianity 
and the Greco-Roman culture within which it grew up and formulated its conception of 
the work of God and human response (within which, for that matter, Judaism continued 
to take shape both in Palestine and. let us not forget, in the Diaspora). This is evident, 
for example, when scholars insist without defense that Old Testament backgrounds are 
"closer" to the New Testament and on that basis exclude other backgrounds (as in 
Gleason, "Old Testament Background, "p. 63), or when scholars affirm differences 
without allowing themselves to acknowledge or "see" similarities (a recurring problem 
in D. N. Howell, Jr., "Review o^ Despising Shame: Honor Discourse and Community 
Maintenance in the Epistle to the Hebrews,'" JETS 42 [ 1 999] 1 6 1 -63 ). This ideological 
trend has been helpfully demonstrated and criticized in Vernon Robbins, The Tapestry 
of Early Christian Discourse: Rhetoric, Society and Ideology (London: Routledge. 
1 996), pp. 232-235. The result is a skewed presentation of the sources that informed and 
were transformed within early Christian culture. Paul, for example, appears to have used 
whatever material would help convey the significance of Jesus Christ and shape and 
motivate a faithful response within a community of disciples, whether that material was 
drawn from the Jewish Scriptures, Greek poets, or philosophical ethicists. Holding the 
text up against a variety of background, rather than choosing one to the exclusion of all 
others, will result in a more richly-nuanced understanding of how the text was heard by 
its (largely) Greco-Roman audience and how it sought to persuade them. Do we believe 
that Christianity is "more legitimate" if its ideas can be traced back to Jewish (or, more 
specifically, Hebrew) sources than if we find Greek or Roman ideas informing Paul or 
Luke? 
'"'' In this regard, the fact that Greek and Latin authors classify people's obligations to 

77 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

God (or, in some authors, the "gods") under the rubric of returning just thanks and honor 

is significant. Long before the birth of Christianity, the ancients Icnew the divine to be 

the supreme benefactor of humanity, and thus upheld the virtue of piety as an essential 

obligation (see Aristotle, Nic. Eth. 1 163b 16- 18). 

''^ Aristotle, for example, noted among the things that rouse anger and desire for 

vengeance insulting or mistreating a benefactor {Rhetoric 2.2.8). 

^'^ Mary's song also highlights God's interest in benefitting and protecting the poor and 

humble, often to the exclusion of the rich and powerful (Lk 1 :48, 51-53; see also Jas 

2:5); Jesus also presents himself as the agent of God's beneficence toward the poor and 

marginal (Luke 4:18-19), and Paul interprets the Corinthians' reception of favor along 

similar lines (1 Cor 1:26-31). In this way, God subverts the "food chain" in normal 

patron-client relationships, taking on as his clients not those closer up in rank and status 

(hence possessing greater potential for returning favors) but reaching down to those who 

lack rank and status. Humility rather than upward-climbing is the way to get close to 

this patron, to "find favor" from God (see Sir 3:18; Jas 4:10; 1 Pet 5:5-6). 

'''' See also Lk 4:25-30, in which Jesus reminds the hearers of God's previous 

benefactions bestowed specifically on Gentiles — and that at times when there were 

many Jews in need of such a favor, but received none. Eph 1:3-3:21 is in many respects 

a lengthy public decree honoring God for God's immense generosity, and prominent 

within this paean is the celebration of God's favor extending to Gentiles as well as Jews. 

It is noteworthy that the New Testament authors consider even repentance to be, not a 

human act, but a gift bestowed by God (Acts 11:15-18; 2 Tim 2:25). 

™ The distinction made by D. Howell ("Review of Despising Shame T 1 63), to the effect 

that God's grace is unmerited and unconstrained (while somehow Pliny's favors are 

consistently merited and constrained?) is thus a false one. "Grace" always looks to the 

needs of the recipient, remains free, and can be granted to the meritorious and the 

notorious by human patrons as well. 

" The Greco-Roman world, too, did understand the difference between "merited" favors 

and "unmerited" favors, both of which exhibited the generosity of the giver (but the 

latter even more so). While we are not deserving of God's favor (thus favor remains 

unmerited), the fact that God does extend such favor to us communicates to us our worth 

in God's estimation. God shows not only his love for us, but also his regard for us in the 

quality of the gifts he gives (most poignantly in the laying down of the life of his Son for 

our sake). It is this communication of both love and esteem that should wash over the 

hardest heart and dissolve it in a return to God. "A gift is not a benefit if the best part 

of it is lacking — the fact that it was given as a mark of esteem" (Seneca, Ben. 1.15.6; 

also 4.29.3). 

''' "Kindness" {chr estates or its adjectival form) is an important descriptor of benefactors 

in Danker's collection of inscriptions (see Benefactor, 325-37). 

" Read Rom 5:6-10 now in this light: God does for enemies what even a virtuous person 

would hesitate to do for a friend; see also Eph 2:1-6; Tit 3:3-7. 

^■^ Danker {Benefactor, 457) draws a comparison with an inscription from Priene which 

declares that a certain benefactor named Moschion has proven "worthy of the arete and 

reputation of his ancestors." 

''^ A comparison between Jesus' words in Mt 5:45 and Seneca's words on the gods' 

beneficence toward good and wicked alike (see above) is striking indeed, particularly 

78 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

considering that both use the model of divine beneficence as an impetus to be generous 

to the good and ungrateful alii<e. 

'' See, for example, Heb 3:6; 10:20-21; Gal 3:26-4:7; 1 Jn 3:1. 

" This statement needs to be tempered, however, in light of statements like "many are 

called, but few are selected": the New Testament does not speak of universal 

incorporation into the household of God, but only oi potential universal incorporation. 

Many recipients of God's beneficence remain quite dead to their obligations of gratitude 

and persist in their rejection of the divine patron and his invitation to become a part of 

his household (see, e.g., 2 Cor 4:3-4). 

'" Christians were not alone in this view of God: the Stoic philosopher Epictetus also 

suggested that a person could find no better patron to whom to attach oneself than God 

— not even Caesar could compare {Dissertations 4. 1 .91-98). 

''' Look closely at Acts 26:22; 2 Cor 1:9-1 1; Phil 4:13; 2 Thess 3:1-2; 1 Tim 1:12-15; 

2 Tim 3:1 1; 4:16-18 from this perspective. 

"" Seneca {Ben. 4.4.2) speaks in similar terms of divine benefits: people are "conscious 

of their benefits that sometimes are presented unasked, sometimes are granted in answer 

to prayer — great and timely gifts, which by their coming remove grave menaces." 

"*' See also such texts as Mt 7:7-11; 1 1:22-24; 21:21-22; Lk 1 1:9-13, with regard to the 

granting of the Holy Spirit; Rom 8:32; Jas 1:5-8, with regard to the specific gift of 

wisdom; 1 Jn 5:14-16. 

^'^ An interesting development of the belief that God has created and provided all manner 

of foods for human consumption is that receiving food with thanksgiving (gratitude) to 

the creator and giver nullifies concerns over defilement or pollution from foods (Rom 

14:6; I Cor 10:30-31; I Tim 4:3-4). Convictions about God as giver override pollution 

taboos — indeed those very taboos legislated in Torah. 

^^ Thus Seneca {Ep. 81.21): Gratitude is '"a great experience which is the outcome of an 

utterly happy condition of soul." 

'' See Eph 6:19; 2 Cor 1:10-11; Phil 1:19; 4:6-7; Col 1:3; 4:12; 1 Thess 5:17, 25; 2 

Thess 3:1-2; 1 Tim 2:1; Jas 5:15-16; 1 Jn 5:14-16. 

^^ A role formerly ascribed to "Wisdom" in Jewish literature: Prov 8:27-3 1, 35-36; Wis 

9:1-2,9. 

'*'' See Mt 4:23-25; 8:5-17; 9:18-35, etc; Mk 1:34, 39; 3:10, etc.; Lk 4:40; 5:15; 6:18; 

7:21; 9:11, etc. Physicians and healers were considered a kind of benefactor in the 

Greco-Roman world, as the inscriptions honoring physicians included by Danker 

{Benefactor, 57-64) attest. 

''^ See also John 9:30-33; 11:22; 14:6, 13-14; 16:23-27 for passages emphasizing Jesus' 

mediation of God's favors. 

*** Recall Aristotle's dictum that well-doers merit honor, and Seneca's directions to 

testify publicly to benefits received as a prime ingredient of gratitude. 

**' So, rightly. Danker, Benefactor, 441. Bruce J. Malina {Windows on the World of 

Jesus: Time Travel to Ancient Judea [Louisville: W/JKP, 1993]) offers a peculiar 

analysis of this passage. From his observations of modem Mediterranean culture, 

Malina claims that saying "thank you" to a social equal means a breaking off of relations 

of reciprocity, whereas one does still give thanks to social superiors for their gifts. He 

suggests that Mediterranean people might empathize more with the nine lepers who do 

not thank Jesus, who leave the relationship open in case they have needs in the future. 

79 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

Such a reading, however clever, cannot be supported from the text. Jesus is addressed 
as a social superior ("Master"), and the petition is cast in terms suggestive of the 
supplicants' awareness of social inferiority ("have mercy on us"). Jesus' response to the 
one leper who did return suggests the expectation that the other nine ought to have 
returned to express gratitude to God for their healing in the presence of the mediator of 
God's favor. Were Malina correct, we should have found Jesus saying to this Samaritan 
leper: "You dolt! You think that's the last favor you're going to need from me?!" 
'" This, too, is not wholly unparalleled in Greco-Roman world, as inscriptions give 
credit not only to the immediate benefactor but also to divine "providence" for providing 
such a virtuous person for the benefit of humankind (see, for example, the famous 
inscription from Priene celebrating the benefits conferred on the whole world through 
Augustus by the divine; translation given in Danker, Benefactor, 215-218). 
" See, among many others, Mt 1:21; Jn 1:29; Acts 5:31; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 
1:4; Col 1:19-20, 22; 2:13-14; Heb 2:14-15; 1 Pet 3:18. 

'^^ Danker {Benefactor, 417-435) calls this the "endangered benefactor" motif and 
documents that is was widely applied to those who braved dangers, incurred risks, or 
shouldered inordinate expenses for the public good or the good of others. "He gave 
himself for others" is common diction honoring such a benefactor (Danker, Benefactor, 
321-323). In the New Testament, see 1 John 3:16-17 (which also expresses the 
appropriate response to such beneficence); the words of institution at the Last Supper 
(e.g., Lk 22:19-22); Mt20;28; 26:26-28; Mk 10:45; Lk 22:1 9-20; Jn 6:51; Jn 10:1 1, 15, 
1 7-1 8; Jn 15: 13; 2 Cor 8:9; Gal 1:4; 3:13; Eph 5:2; 1 Tim 2:6; Tit 2:14; Heb 2:9; 7:27; 
13:12; Rev 1:5; 5:9-10. 

'^ The decision of the NRSV translators to render charts here as "generous acf ' is most 
astute, combining an emphasis both on the giver's disposition and the resulting 
benefaction. 

'** Priests were seen, in general, as the parties who "managed" relationships with the 
divine, restoring favor, mediating thanks, and securing gifts from the divine. Heb 5:1 
captures, by way of general definition, the essence of priesthood as standing between 
human beings before God on behalf of human beings. The Latin word for priest, 
pontifex, or "bridge-maker," also underscored the mediatorial (=brokering) nature of the 
priest's role. 

'^ Hebrews 1-10 contains many topics geared to "amplify" the favor (gift of access) 
conferred by Jesus (thus amplifying also the corresponding sense of indebtedness to the 
giver). Aristotle {Rhetoric 2.7. 1 ) wrote that a favor "is great if shown to one who is in 
great need, or who needs what is important and hard to get, or who needs it at an 
important and difficult crisis; or if the helper is the only, the first, or the chief person to 
give the help." Jesus is consistently celebrated in Hebrews as the "firsf and "only" 
broker (mediator) to succeed in conferring the gift of direct access to God (see, e.g., Heb 
7:11-28:9:6-15; 10:1-14). 

'^■^ Other texts emphasizing Jesus' gift of a new access to God's favor and assistance 
includeJohn 16:26-27; Rom 8:34; Eph 2:18; 3:1 1-12; lTim2:5-6; Heb 10:19-23; 1 Pet 
1 ;2 1 ; Rev 1 :6 (making us priests means bestowing access to God). 
^^ 2Cor 1:3-7; 4:7-15;6:4-10(esp6:10);Eph3:l-2,13;Coll;24-25;2:l;lThess2:8-9 
(where he emphasizes that he has not been a burden on the "public" in the execution of 

80 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

his office). 

'** Paul does not use this to "lord it over" his converts (and he takes explicit pains to 
avoid giving this impression; 2 Cor 1:24), but he does remind his addressees of their 
debt to him at times when he is uncertain of their response and needs to use his trump 
card (as perhaps in Philem 18-19) or when fidelity to Paul is at stake (as in 2 
Corinthians). 

'^ Seneca {Ben. 4.15.3) speaks of the tendency of human patrons to give repeatedly to 
those they have helped in the past: "How often will you hear a man say: '1 cannot bear 
to desert him, for 1 have given him his life, 1 have rescued him from peril. He now begs 
me to plead his cause against men of influence; 1 do not want to, but what can 1 do? 1 
have already helped him once, no, twice.' Do you not see that there is, inherent in the 
thing itself, some peculiar power that compels us to give benefits, first, because we 
ought, then, because we have already given them?... We continue to bestow because we 
have already bestowed." The investment God and Christ have already made in us 
becomes a cause for confidence of their continued favor and investment in the faithful, 
an assurance of future help. In Paul's words, "He who did not withhold his own Son, 
but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?" (Rom 
8:32). 

'"•^ See Danker, Benefactor, 324-25. 

"^' The objection raised by Howell ("Review of Despising Shame,'" 163) that, somehow 
in contrast to "the giving and receiving of benefactions in the patronal society of 
Greece," Christians realize that they can never repay the favors of God. This is, 
however, a point that resonates strongly and specifically with Greco-Roman patronage, 
for the client, being a social inferior to the patron, was not in a position to "repay" the 
patron, hence expressed his or her gratitude by some other means than offering an 
equally valuable gift in the future. Aristotle (Mc. Eth. 1 163b 15- 18) knew that the favors 
of the gods and of parents can never be adequately repaid, with the result that the person 
who pays them all the regard he or she can is deemed virtuous. With regard to human 
patrons, Seneca envisions the situation where a recipient shows his gratitude thus: "1 
may not be able to repay you, but at the least 1 shall not refrain from declaring 
everywhere that I cannot repay you" {Ben 2.24A). He discourses also at some length 
{Ben. 7.16.1-4) about the recipient who has taken great pains to try to return a benefit, 
being watchful for the opportunity but simply not finding a way to help one who is far 
greater than himself or herself: "the one should say, T have received,' the other, T still 
owe'." 

'"' The declaration of God's aretai resembles the use of this term in honorary 
inscriptions, where it means not just virtue but "demonstration of character and 
exceptional performance" (Danker, Benefactor, 3 1 8). This aspect of response to divine 
benefits is deeply rooted in the worship of Israel (see Ps 96: 1-4; 105:1-2; 107; 116:12- 
18). 

"" Early Christians frequently had reason to hide their attachment to Jesus and his 
followers, since association with that group brought suspicion, reproach, even physical 
abuse and financial ruin (see Heb 10:32-34; 1 Pet 4: 14- 16). Keeping silence about one's 
patron, and denying his gifts through their silence, was not an option for virtuous 
recipients of favor. Recall Seneca's admonition {Ben. 1.13. \ ): "As the giver should add 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

to his gift only that measure of publicity which will please the one to whom he gives it, 
so the recipient should invite the whole city to witness it; a debt that you are ashamed 
to acknowledge you should not accept." 

'°'' In John 15:8, Jesus says that the Father is glorified when Jesus' followers "bear much 
fruit and be[come] my disciples." The vagueness of this expression (the "fruif is never 
specified in John) may have been quite intentional, alerting the readers to watch for all 
possible opportunities to "be fruitful" to the increase of God's honor, whether that be 
in good works that point to the Source of all goodness, in making new disciples, or 
simply in internalizing ever more fully the life of discipleship as taught by Jesus and his 
apostles. 

'°' Although I deeply appreciate Dietrich Bonhoeffer's challenging words on "cheap 
grace" and "costly grace" in The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Collier, 1959), the 
concept of "costly gratitude" might have served his point better (avoiding any 
misunderstandings that grace could be acquired or purchased). His argument is, of 
course, that gifts costing the Son so dearly must rouse us to make a like return. 
'"*' Recall Seneca, Ben. 4.24.2: "It is the ungrateful man who thinks: i should have liked 
to return gratitude, but I fear the expense, 1 fear the danger, I shrink from giving offense; 
I would rather consult my own interest." 

"*^ I Pet 2: 19-20 contains the enigmatic "phrasts touto gar charis diwA touto charis para 
thed(i). The NRSV renders these "it is a credit to you" and "you have God's approval." 
but in both obscures the more immediate impression of the words: "this is a gift"; "this 
is a gift from God" (or "this is [the manifestation of] favor before God"). 
'"'* In an oration on the reasons for distrust, Dio points out that "what someone has said 
about Fortune might much rather be said about human beings, that no one knows about 
any one whether he will remain as he is until the morrow," changing his word and 
breaking agreements as his advantage leads {Or. 74.21-22). There is no such lack of 
"constancy" {Or. 74.4) in the Christian's patron. Jesus, affirms the author of Hebrews. 
'"'^ Consider the similar logic in I Pet 1:17-21: The believers have an obligation to 
conduct themselves in such a way as shows reverence for God (1:17) because of the acts 
of beneficence already performed for them by God in Jesus, namely being ransomed at 
no less a price than Jesus' own lifeblood — a price foreseen before creation itself (the 
topic of forethought in beneficence was common: see Acts 24:2-4 for but one example). 
They thus owe God more than they would owe any human benefactor who effected their 
deliverance through the paying of a ransom in gold or silver (already a staggering debt 
of gratitude). The beneficent intent of God in the incarnation and passion of Jesus is 
underscored again as "on your account" (6i ' i))id(;, 1 :20). 

"" See, rightly. Danker, Benefactor, 451. Other passages deserving attention in this 
context are Rom 12:1 and Eph 4:1 (which begin to outline the proper response to the 
beneficence celebrated in Rom I -1 1 and Eph 1-3) and Heb 13:15-16, which describes 
the proper demonstration of "gratitude" and "reverent service" (Heb 12:28) to be 
rendered to God by those his Son has cleansed, to whom he gave access to God's favor 
and presence, whom he will yet "perfect" by leading them into the unshakable realm. 
" ' Recall Seneca's attempt to do the same, directing patrons and benefactors to imitate 
the gods, who lavish their gifts on the sacrilegious and indifferent as well as the pious 
{Ben. 1.1.9; 4.25.1 ; 4.26. 1 ; 4.28. 1 ), acting ever in accordance with their own character 
and virtue, even in the face of lack of virtue. 



82 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

"^ Failure to do so inevitably insults the giver, who gives in the expectation that a gift 
will be utilized and used in a manner suitable to its worth (the person given a precious 
artefact should not put it in the attic, nor use it for a spitoon, for example). 
"^ See also Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12:4-1 1; Eph 4:7-16. 
"'' Danker, Benefactor, 453-466. 

""" On the frequent occurrence of the verb epichoreged'xn reference to the activity of 
benefactors, see Danker, Benefactor, 331-332. 

' "^ Forgetfulness of benefits is strongly censured by Seneca {Ben. 3.1 .3-3.3.2), as also 
in Cicero, De officiis 2.63: '"all people hate forgetfulness of benefactions, thinking it to 
be an injury against themselves since it discourages generosity and the ingrate to be the 
common enemy of the needy." We should expect 2 Pet 1 :9 to arouse similar disgust and 
shame, leading the hearers to take care to pursue the course recommended by the author 
that shows mindfulness of God's favors. 

"^ For a close analysis of patron-client and "grace" scripts at work in the pastoral 
strategy of this text, see my "'Exchanging Favor for Wrath: Apostasy in Hebrews and 
Patron-Client Relations," JBL 115 (1996) 91-1 16; on Heb 6:4-8 specifically, see my 
""Hebrews 6:4-8: A Socio-Rhetorical Investigation," Tyndale Bulletin 50.1 (1999) and 
50.2(1999). 

"** Agricultural images are common in classical texts on patronage and reciprocity: 
Seneca frequently compares giving to sowing seed, grateful clients to good soil, ingrates 
to worn out soil {Ben. 1.1.2; 2.1 1.4-5; 4.8.2; 4.33.1-2). Pseudo-Phocylides (the real 
name of the author of this Jewish collection of wise advice is unknown) similarly writes: 
"Do no good to a bad man; it is like sowing into the sea" {Sentences, 1 52). 
"'^ Heb 10:26-31 offers an even more intense depiction of the significance of 
withdrawing from open association with the Christian community in the hope of getting 
back in the good graces of society: the value of the gift and what it cost the Giver are 
despised by such life choices, and the honor of Jesus, whose favor has been trampled, 
is avenged by God the Judge in the punishment of the ingrates. 
'■^" Luke lays special emphasis on this point: only in his gospel are we told how to 
provide ourselves with these "treasures in heaven," namely by charitable giving, and 
only in his gospel is the challenge poised at the young rich man also poised to all who 
would follow Jesus (see especially 14:33). This conviction is developed in the second- 
century Christian text. Shepherd of Hennas, Similitude 1 . 

'"' '""Whatever I have given, that I still possess!' ... These are the riches that will abide, 
and remain steadfast amid all the fickleness of our human lot; and, the greater they 
become, the less envy they will arouse. Why do you spare your wealth as though it were 
your own? You are but a steward.... Do you ask how you can make them your own? By 
bestowing them as gifts! Do you, therefore, make the best of your possessions, and, by 
making them, not only safer, but more honorable, render your own claim to them assured 
and inviolable" {Ben. 6.3.1, 3). 

'" Compare Seneca, Ben. 1.7.1: ""Sometimes we feel under greater obligations to one 
who has given small gifts out of a great heart, who 'by his spirit matched the gift of 
kings', who bestowed his little, but gave it gladly, who beholding my poverty forgot his 
own." Also striking is the similarity between Seneca's and Jesus' evaluations of gifts 
from the rich and from those of poor means. '"A gift has been made by someone of a 
large sum of money, but the giver was rich, he was not likely to feel the sacrifice; the 

83 



Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament 

same gift was made by another, but the giver was Ukely to lose the whole of his 
patrimony. The sum given is the same, but the benefit is not the same" (Ben. 3.8.2). 
Compare this with the story of the Widow's Mite (Lk 21:1-4). 

^-^ This theme will recur throughout early Christian literature. The Acts of Peter, for 
example, promotes the awareness that the benefactions of wealthy Christians are 
presented as examples "of Christ's care for his own" (R. F. Stoops, Jr., "Patronage in the 
Acts of Peter," Seineia3S [1986] 91-100, p. 94) that result in praise and thanks to Jesus 
rather than as the means by which rich people enhance their own prestige in the 
community. Their gifts are not to advance his personal power but are given on the basis 
of their loyalty to Jesus (p. 98; Acts of Peter 19); see also Clement of Alexandria's 
sermon, "'On the Rich Man who Enters Heaven." 

'^'' Another model used to communicate the ideal of Christian giving is that of 
friendship. Luke presents the earliest community of believers fulfilling the ancient ideal 
of friendship, where friends, united by a common commitment to virtue, "hold all things 
in common" (Aristotle, Nic. Eth. 8.11; 11 59b3 1 ): no one considered his or her property 
to be "his own," but rather treated it as the common property of all the believers and 
used his or her property to relieve need wherever it arose (Acts 4:32-35). Within this 
relationship there was sharing without power-plays. 

^-' Spiritual favors and material favors can be exchanged in the reciprocal relationships 
between believers and churches: the latter is certainly not more "real" than the former, 
and even less glowing. See Rom 1:11-12; 15:26-27; 1 Cor 9:1 1; Gal 6:6. 



84 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

Ethics and Community 

by Thomas L. Michaels* 

Christian ethics in the modem world seems to have generally taken 
one of two tracks. Either it has become ossified as a rigid set of rules and 
regulations of behavior or it has followed the world's example and reached a 
point of flexibility wherein nearly any activity is permissible and acceptable in 
a context where individual rights supersede any other consideration. These 
extreme points are often used to help describe the stance of conservative and 
liberal Christian factions. Unfortunately neither side has maintained a Christian 
perspective on ethics as found in the Pauline writings of the New Testament. 

John Howard Yoder has sought to describe "the connection which 
might relate New Testament studies with contemporary social ethics" or "how 
Jerusalem can relate to Athens" and that "Bethlehem has something to say 
about Rome."' This writer concurs with Voder's position that Jesus is relevant 
and necessary for normative Christian ethics. 

The objective of this paper is to understand the Pauline context of 
Christian ethics by reviewing the historical basis for ethical behavior and then 
using this to discover the intentions of Paul as he instructs the churches of his 
time. We will close by examining our present culture fi^om that Pauline context. 

Ethical behavior in ancient times took on forms which dealt with the 
relationships between people. One of the earliest models is the Suzerain-vassal 
model on which many scholars believe the Mosaic covenant is based. 
According to The Anchor Bible Dictionary this covenant form "was merely a 
device for communicating values envisioning human relationships proceeding 
along some moral plan higher than coercive force."^ 

This Hittle formulation has several characteristics.^ 

1 . Idenfication of the covenant giver: Here the great and powerful 
king identifies himself and bestows a gracious relationship upon an inferior. 
The exclusivity of this relationship is understood. Turning away from this 
relationship by the inferior is treason and subjects the inferior to a penalty of 
death. 

2. The historical prologue: The idea of reciprocity is inherent in this 
section. The great king narrates his past actions for the benefit of the vassal. 
The appropriate response of the vassal then becomes gratitude and obedience 
to the requests of the great king. 

3. The stipulations: This section describes the interests of the great 

*Tom Michaels (M.Div.-ATS, 1996) is pastor of Millersburg Mennonite 
Church in Millersburg, OH. 



85 



Ethics and Community 

king which the vassal is bound to protect under the covenant relationship. 

4. The provision for deposit and periodic public reading: The 

treaty and its contents are incorporated into the operating value system of the 
vassal kingdom. It was read regularly to the people to keep it before them. 

5. The list of witnesses to the treaty: The witnesses to the treaty were 
always deities or deified elements of the natural world. 

6. The blessings and curses: Because the witnesses were considered 
supernatural, those same deities were to carry out the blessings and curses 
which would come for obedience or disobedience to the activities required 
under the treaty. 

7. The ratification ceremony: The ratification ceremony was 
centered on the sacrifice of an animal. The animal represented the vassal and 
his kingdom who would be likewise slaughtered if the covenant was violated. 

8. The imposition of curses: The implied right of the great king was 
to declare the covenant invalid upon the disobedience of the vassal nation. At 
such time the protection and benefits of the great king were withdrawn. If such 
occurred, then the logical and likely instrument of destruction of the vassal 
nation was the great king himself 

The similarity of this model to the Mosaic covenant is obvious. 
However, the most significant characteristic of this model for our discussion is 
the basis of relationship which is established therein. The Mosaic covenant 
including the laws and ordinances should not, therefore, be seen as a set of 
rules or regulations to be strictly accomplished by rote. Such a perception 
destroys the intent of the covenant to establish a basis for continuing 
relationship between the great king and the vassal. 

A careful reading of the prophets will convey this as the claim which 
God brought against the people of Israel. The condemnation found in Micah 
and Amos (among others) relates an empty performance of rites which God 
rejects. The people's relationship with God has become ossified and 
meaningless in the activities of the daily lives. In other words, the ethical 
impact of their relationship with God is missing. The accusations of injustice, 
greed, and vice which God brings against Israel witness to this fact. Unless the 
vassal nation of Israel returns to its covenant relationship with God, God 
himself with destroy them. Ethics here is not separated from daily living or 
from a proper relationship with God. Ethical failure, in the form of breaking 
the covenant, however, is the basis for God's action against Israel and Judah. 

The second model we wish to review is the city-state model of ancient 
Greece. The city-state was the unity of government in ancient Greece. The 
virtues of acknowledged by an community would be defined by that 
community. While the virtues of each city-state might be defined differently. 



86 



Ashland Theological Journal i / ( 1 999) 

one's observance of these virtues would define one's citizenship. Freedom in 
this setting was defined as doing what one knew to be required. It was not 
doing whatever makes one feel good, as in our society today. 

The final model for understanding ethical behavior comes from the 
Greco-Roman world in which Paul lived. The benefactor-client model 
dominated relationships in these times. The benefactor-client relationship was 
foundational for the Greco-Roman world. It defined relationships at all levels 
of society. John Chow provides the following list of common features of the 
patron-client relationship."* 

1 . It is an exchange relationship. The patron provides what the client 
needs and the client gives the patron the object or service he desires. 

2. It is an asymmetrical relationship. The patron and client are not 
equal in terms of power or resources. 

3. It is particularistic and informal. It strengthens the bonds 
between them. 

4. It is usually a supra-legal relationship. It is based on mutual 
understanding and not on a worldly legal system. Hence it is often subtle. 

5. It is a binding and long-range relationship. There is a strong 
sense of interpersonal obligation. 

6. It is a voluntary relationship. However, the client may have no 
other place to turn to for help. 

7. It is a vertical relationship. It discourages the multiple patron 
relationships, although clients may find commonality in their diversity through 
their patron. 

Frederick Danker has done extensive work on the subject of 
patronage. He describes both Jesus and Paul as endangered benefactors. 
In his earthly life Jesus manifested himself as a benefactor 
through mighty words and deeds. His crucifixion is the 
climactic expression of his willingness to accept the 
consequences of identifying with God's intention to relate to 
the needs of humanity at any and every social level. ^ 
Paul's imitation of Christ places him in a similar endangered benefactor 
position which Paul occasionally describes in his epistles. However, such a 
model provides a sense that we are to become benefactors, even endangered, 
to those around us who do not know of Christ's benefactor on behalf of us all. 
In the Greco-Roman world the interrelationship between households 
2lx\6. polls is key to our understanding of Paul's writings. 

Greco-Roman political writers understood the household to 
be the basic building block of the state. Cities, they 



87 



Ethics and Community 

observed, are composed of households... Some political 
philosophers... gave the discussion of the household a 
specific form: Aristotelians and Neo- Pythagoreans were 
concerned about the relationship of authority and 
subordination between three pairs: husbands and wives, 
fathers and children..., and masters and slaves.^ 

That Paul highlights these same relationships in his letters should not 
be overlooked. The form of the first century church was the household. 
Therefore, these same relationships become important expressions of that first 
century Christianity. 

Even more, the benefactor-client relationship often expanded the 
household influence far beyond a traditional twentieth century understanding. 
Such influence frequently reached into the homes of servants and slaves, 
business associations, community involvement, and religious expression. As 
an example, the range of influence of the imperial household reached far 
beyond the immediate royal family. Its expanse was as wide as the Roman 
empire. 

Paul understood and used the concepts of polls and its unit, the 
household, to express the new relationships which Jesus Christ offers. He 
further used the reality of benefaction to express Christ's position in these 
relationships, and the Mosaic covenant, most often expressed as the Law, to 
define the part which God the Father plays in this new age. This idea can easily 
be identified in Paul's customary greeting, "Grace to you and peace from God 
our Father and the Lord Jesus Chrisf and his benediction, "The grace of the 
Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." The relationship of the household is 
expressed as God our Father and the benefaction relationship with Jesus in the 
expression of grace and the title of lord. Further uses of benefaction language 
can be found in Galatians 5:1-3 and Romans 5:6-8. 

In Philippians Paul specifically conveys the image of ihQ polls to the 
new community when we are "in Christ." In Philippians 1 :27 and 3:20 Paul 
uses forms of this word to indicate our citizenship in a new community, the 
community of God, which has replaced our loyalty to worldly kingdoms. Jesus, 
through his death, has offered to become our benefactor. Only our response as 
faithful clients remain to claim this new relationship which is offered to us. 

In benefactor-client relationships, there was often a broker who 
mediated the relationship. Jesus came from God to Israel in such a function. 
That is why he came not to the Gentiles but to Israel. God had functioned as 
the great king of Israel, as their benefactor. When the Jews crucified Christ, 
they also rejected the benefaction of God. But through this same act Jesus 
became the benefactor of all who believe in him. 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

With Christ as our benefactor we now must live our lives in 
accordance to the "law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2): To love our neighbor as ourselves 
(Gal. 5:14). Our love for God is omitted here, not because it is invalid, but 
because as we accept our position as clients of Christ our adoption by God is 
understood. Our relationship with God is secure and only our relationship with 
each other remains by which and through which the truthfulness and fullness 
of our relationship to God through Christ is testified to. Therein, the works of 
the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit witness not only to our relationship with 
each other but to our relationship with God. They are the measure of our 
Christian ethics. In this relationship we are free in the classical sense: we are 
able to be and do what we have been created for. Like a fish out of water, our 
lives are threatened when sin removes us from relationship with God. Freedom 
and life is found only in the water for a fish, and only "in Christ" for humanity. 

Christian ethics in this Pauline context then become the measure of our 
faithfulness to our covenant with God. It is not dependent on the strict 
obedience to paranetic material which Paul includes in several of his letters. 
Rather, in these portions of virtue/vice lists and household codes, Paul seeks to 
highlight the relationships and the actions which should be influenced and 
determined by our relationship "in Christ." 

The benefactor relationship with Christ is also to be the model for 
other relationships we have. Paul repeats several times the relationships 
between master and slave, husband and wife, father and child. But Paul also 
announces the destruction of barriers which have prevented persons from 
relationships: Jew and Gentile, slave or free, male or female (Gal. 3:28). 

The context for Christian ethics then runs parallel to that of the ancient 
Greeks: being "in Chrisf becomes the community, the polls, wherein our 
virtues and actions are defined. The "head" of this nation is Jesus Christ. He 
is our Lord, our benefactor, by virtue of his death and resurrection on our 
behalf. By extending his grace to us and through our acceptance of it we 
establish a relationship through which we continue to experience his grace, and 
wherein we must continue to worship, praise, and serve him. 

As Yoder has indicated. Christian ethics without a relationship to 
Christ is impossible. From this relationship, a relationship based on faith and 
the experience of Christ's grace, our moral actions and position must be drawn. 
We must define our ethical behavior in this relationship. This precludes the use 
of violence, violence which cannot be defined just in terms of the destruction 
of human lives, but rather more broadly in the destruction of our human 
relationships (1 John 4:20-21). 

In Galatians, a structural analysis of the letter demonstrates that Paul 
and his opponents agree that the law cannot bring salvation. The Galatian 
Christians have misunderstood the message of the Judaizers and now seek the 

89 



Ethics and Community 

law as a means to salvation. Paul's argument against his opponents essentially 
was that to associate oneself with the jews is to identify with those who have 
rejected the relationship which God desires to have with his people. This 
identification as the people of God (Israel) was exactly what the Judaizers were 
seeking to have the Gentile Christians embrace, but to Paul it was to "cut 
yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace" (Gal. 5:4). 
Essentially Paul was viewing the nation of Israel through the eyes of the 
suzerain-vassal formula. God has rejected Israel because of its disobedience, 
because of its rejection of Jesus and its attempt to destroy him. To associate 
oneself to Israel is to associate with the way which God has rejected. Paul 
offers a better way. 

The writings of Paul, especially from an ethical perspective, become 
quite understandable when viewed with an understanding of the benefactor- 
client model. Paul even views the Torah from such a perspective. The 
similarities between the Suzerain-vassal formula and the benefaction model 
provides Paul with a good perception of the Torah at this point. The 
understanding of the Gentiles was also facilitated by use of the benefactor 
model, and through Paul's parallel use of the "in Christ" for the "polis" as a 
basis for understanding the virtues which Paul describes as fruits of the Spirit 
and through his drawing in paranetic material such as virtue-vice lists and 
household codes. 

How then does this relate to our world today? The benefactor-client 
relationship is often dismissed as archaic or inappropriate in our society. In its 
place we find the declaration of individual rights. But such a condition 
destroys the traditional basis for relationships. As such we should expect the 
deterioration of relationships which we have experienced in our society. With 
no relationships of value to be maintained, there is no community. Without 
community the definition of virtues is absent and license is granted for any 
action which the individual deems to be appropriate. Freedom is redefined to 
include license rather than obligation. Even the sanctity of human life is 
sacrificed in such a state. Ethical behavior is impossible without community; 
and community fails without relationships; and relationships without a 
foundation by which they may be maintained cannot be valued or conserved. 

What the is the answer to this dilemma? It remains as clear in our day 
as it was in Paul's. We who have the ears to hear must be obedient to God's 
call to demonstrate to this world the unique opportunities for relationships 
which brings value and purpose to life. We who find our community and 
relationship in Christ must witness to the validity of that relationship in this 
society. It will take more than words, more than demonstrations of love, more 
than reaching out to others. It requires drawing others into our community and 
discipling them, teaching them of the relationships to which Christ calls us all. 

90 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

It means being an ambassador from the kingdom to which we now belong to 
those in whose communities of this world where we now live. Paul understood 
this need in his day (2 Cor. 5 : 1 7-2 1 ). 

This is the ethical responsibility to which our faith calls us: not an 
ethic of rigid rules and regulations, not an ethic of license and individual rights; 
nor even an ethic of giving without an expectations. But rather an ethic which 
finds its expression arising out of a relationship with God through the grace of 
Jesus Christ. An ethic which possesses the reasonable expectations of 
response, not to our feeble efforts, but to God's work through us as an 
expression of our relationship to Him. An ethic which seeks to build a 
community in which the virtues of Christ are manifested and experienced by all 
who come. Being in Christ is our new polls, our new community. Being a 
child of God is the new household to which we belong within that community. 
Being grateful clients to our benefactor, our Lord Jesus Christ, we must act in 
ways which bring praise and honor to him. We will know we are fulfilling 
these responsibilities when we who are the branches, grafted into the vine 
which is Christ, bloom, and the fruits of the Spirit take form and ripen in us. 

Endnotes 

' John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 

1972), 13. 

" George E. Mendenhall and Gary A. Herion, "Covenant," The Anchor Bible 

Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 1201. 

^ "Covenant," 1180-1182. 

''John K. Chow. Patronage a«(i Power (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 1992), 

30-33. 

^ Frederick W. Danker, Benefactor: Epigraphic Study of a Greco-Roman and New 

Testament Semantic Field {St. Louis: Clayton Publishing House, 1982), 423. 

'' John E. Stambaugh and David L. Balch, The New Testament in it 's Social 

Environment (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986), 123. 

Bibliography 

Chow, John K. Patronage and Power. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic 
Press, 1992. 

Danker, Frederick W. Benefactor: Epigraphic Study of a Greco-Roman 

and New Testament Semantic Field. St. Louis: Clayton Publishing 
House, 1982. 



91 



Ethics and Community 

. Jesus and the New Age: A Commentary on St. Luke 's Gospel. 

Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988. 

. Luke. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987. 

. "Benefactor." The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by David Noel 

Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992. I, 669-671. 

Meeks, Wayne. "The Circle of Reference in Pauline Morality." Greeks, 
Romans, and Christians. Edited by David L. Balch, Everett 
Ferguson, and Wayne A. Meeks. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 
1990. 

Mendenhall, George E. and Gary A. Herion. "Covenant." The Anchor Bible 
Dictionary. Edited by David Noel Freedman. New York: 
Doubleday, 1992. 1, 1179-1202. 

Stambaugh. John E. and David L. Balch. The New Testament in its Social 
Environment. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986. 

Yoder. John Howard. The Politics of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Wm B. 
Eerdmans Publishing Col, 1972. 



92 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

Concepts and Our Understanding of Them 

James P. Danaher* 

It is difficult to say exactly what a concept or mental representation is, 
but as difficult as it might be to understand such things, their existence is 
undeniable. To begin with, concepts, for nearly everyone since the time of 
Aristotle, have been the things to which words refer (Aristotle 1 6a3-9). Except 
for proper nouns, words are given meaning or signification as they refer not to 
things but to concepts. These concepts are general ideas that unite and organize 
our experience. By grouping our experiences, which are always particular, 
these concepts allow us to speak and think in ways that would be otherwise 
impossible. 

Among the Ancients and Medievals, most believed that our concepts 
or mental representations organized our experience into a correct understanding 
of the world. That is, that just as our perceptions are reliable because God has 
equipped us with perceivers that accurately reflect His creation, we are also 
equipped with the ability to conceptualize and group those perceptions correctly 
as well. Unlike our Ancient and Medieval ancestors who believed that we 
possessed a God-given ability to correctly conceptualize the world, today 
maintaining that belief is extremely difficult. Even if one believes that God did 
originally give us concepts that represented a correct conceptual understanding 
of the world, the fact seems undeniable that human beings and their language 
communities can create completely new concepts and refine and change 
existing ones. The fact that concepts change over time, and from one culture 
to another, is evidence of the fact that we can conceptualize our experience in 
a vast variety of ways. 

Of course, we do have some sort of mental hardware that allows us to 
form concepts, and it is very possible that this hardware even universally 
prevents us from conceiving some things other than we do. Equally, the nature 
of some experiences may be such that alternative conceptual judgments are not 
possible. But in spite of all that, we have an enormous freedom in our ability 
to form concepts. 

This freedom can easily be seen in children as they begin to acquire 
language. Their earliest concepts are often very different from the concepts 
that their language community associates with a particular signifier or word. 
The first concept a child might form and identify with the word dog might be 
a very general notion that includes many kinds of pets, or it may be very narrow 

*Dr. James Danaher is a Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Department 
of Philosophy at Nyack College in Nyack, New York. 



93 



Concepts and Our Understanding of Them 

and include characteristics unique to the child's own dog. it is only as more 
instances of the signifier dog are identified that the child's concept becomes 
something close to that of the language community. Thus, with their exposure 
to language the child's initial freedom to form concepts becomes restricted and 
their concepts are molded and come to conform to those held by the language 
community. Such conformity, however, is not toward some absolute concept 
which represents objective reality. Indeed, the concept or signification that our 
language community attaches to a particular word is arbitrary, at least in the 
sense that there exists an enormous amount of alternative ways that we can 
group our experiences into the concepts to which we attach words. Although 
our perceptual reality may be based upon an objective physical world, our 
conceptual reality is based largely upon the various ways our language 
community and culture have come to divide up the world. 

Our culture chooses to distinguish black people from white people and 
we form concepts that allow for such a distinction, but an almost infinite variety 
of other conceptual races could be established based on an equally infinite 
variety of characteristics. Our concepts of black people and white people are 
clearly the result of a choice to form one specific concept of race rather than 
hundreds of other possible concepts. With diseases it is equally easy to see that 
the essential characteristics we select to form concepts are obviously nominal 
and the product of judgments rather than any God-given ability to form correct 
concepts. But if our concepts of things like races and diseases are nominal and 
of our own creation, then all, or nearly all, of our concepts are suspect. In order 
for us to claim any of our concepts as natural or God-given, we need to show 
why we believe such concepts have a status above being nominal and more than 
the product of human judgment and convention. Without a criterion to separate 
nominal from natural (or God-given) concepts, all concepts must be treated as 
nominal, and thus conceptual reality must be understood as a cultural and 
linguistic construct. 

Furthermore, since the time of Saussure, most linguistic theories have 
maintained that the nominal concepts to which words refer are established by 
the rest of the language system, and do not have individual or atomic meanings 
in themselves. What gives meaning to the word dog is not so much a single 
definition, as it is the fact that the word dog refers to that which is not a cat or 
wolf Thus, the signification or meaning of a signifier depends not on its 
relationship to something within the world, nor even to a single individual 
concept, but to a whole system of signifiers and what they signify (Saussure 
120-122). Additionally, since language is dynamic and open to arbitrary 
changes over time, a change in the meaning or signification of one word 
changes the signification of another word. 

In light of these contemporary insights into the nature of language, 

94 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

today's Christian is faced with a problem of how to understand Scripture. If 
the words of Scripture and their signification are relative to the rest of 
language, and language is dynamic and ever changing, how is such a language 
able to express eternal and immutable truths? To put it another way, how can 
God use human language with its human, mutable concepts to represent or 
express His concepts which, since they are not the product of our language 
community, are most likely not at all like our concepts? 

One possible solution to the problem of our mutable concepts which 
are subject to the vicissitudes of culture, language, and human judgment is to 
establish immutable concepts founded upon the basic forms of the phenomenal 
world. Some Christians have been attracted to something like Husserl's quest 
to discover the true rational essences or concepts that are the irreducible stuff 
of the phenomenal world (Husserl 340-44). 

Such a project encounters a variety of problems. Two are particularly 
important. The first is that even if a Husserlian eidetic reduction did overcome 
the conventional and ever-changing nature of our concepts, such concepts, and 
the language that would be based upon them, would not help us with the 
problem of understanding the concepts set forth in Scripture since the Scripture 
was written without the aid of such phenomenological concepts. The second 
problem with such a project is that even if correct rational essences were 
achievable, and such essences did represent the basic forms by which God 
organized the phenomenal world, such essences are not very interesting and not 
what we ultimately desire. I believe our real interest or desire is not to discover 
concepts that represent the basic forms of the phenomenal world, but to 
discover concepts that represent God's intentional meaning. 1 am not so much 
interested in how God conceives the physical species of plants and animals. I 
am interested, however, to know how God conceptualizes things like love and 
faith. This is what I desire in order to know Him more intimately. But since 
the concepts 1 attach to words such as love and faith are relative to my language 
community and culture, 1 do not know the meaning or signification that God 
would attach to such signifiers. 

Attempting to solve this problem by the kind of eidetic reduction 
Husserl had proposed might overcome the conventional nature of our concepts 
but it would not give us what we are really after, which is God's intentional 
meaning. To come to an understanding of God's concepts, we need to move 
in the opposite direction. That is, unlike the projects of Husserl or Kant, which 
attempted to overcome the personal and subjective nature of concepts, the 
concepts we seek are purely personal and subjective. Indeed, the concepts we 
seek to know are those personal and subjective concepts that exist within the 
noetic reality that is the mind of God. Before we can pursue an understanding 
of such concepts, however, we first need to more fully understand the way 

95 



It>' 



Concepts and Our Understanding of Them 

these personal concepts are distinct from either the common concepts that lie 
at the base of our language communities, or the strict and rigid concepts that lie 
at the base of our scientific communities. 

The Multifarious Nature of a Concept 

Concepts are certainly multifarious and this is at least partially because 
human beings, and their language, function on several levels and thus so must 
their concepts. Wittgenstein acknowledges this when he says that we can create 
exact concepts for specific purposes and that these concepts stand as additions 
to the concepts we use for common language (Wittgenstein, Philosophical 
Investigations 68-69). Thus, there is the common concept of "water" which I 
communicate in order to satisfy my thirst, and there is an exact concept of 
"H20" which allows me to communicate a more precise meaning of the same 
signifier. But besides the common concept, and the more exact concept of 
water used by science, there is a concept of water that represents the stuff I 
played in as a child. This concept exists on a deeper level and is the kind of 
concept 1 wish to communicate in my more intimate communions. This deeper, 
personal concept goes far beyond the concept that the language community 
commonly holds, it is my private concept of "water" which has a unique 
meaning only to me, but it is nevertheless a concept that 1 sometimes wish to 
communicate to another human being (usually someone with whom I am 
intimate). The concept of water 1 communicate at this level is neither common 
nor scientific, but personal, and its meaning goes far beyond what is 
communicated on the common or scientific level. 

On the common level, or even the precise scientific level, a concept is 
little more than a commonly understood boundary that separates one kind from 
another, while on the deeper and more personal level, a concept is really not 
common at all. Plato's idea of a concept as an eidos or what is common to all 
members of a species only applies to the common or scientific notions of a 
concept and omits completely the idea of a personal concept (Plato 72-79). 

Unlike Plato, and nearly the entire tradition that followed him, 
Wittgenstein understood that language, and its concepts, function differently 
in different situations, and for different purposes (Wittgenstein, Blue and 
Brown Books 1 ). In common communication, we use concepts for the purpose 
of utility, and thus knowing the intentional meaning of a speaker is not 
important, but at other times when we wish to communicate for the purpose of 
intimacy, the intentional meaning or personal concept of the speaker is what we 
are after. Thus, with our common concepts the concept is most often used as 
a means to identify the extensions of that concept, while with our personal 
concepts the instances or extensions of the concept are the means, and the 
purpose is to communicate the concept itself Of course, an exact 

96 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 {\ 999) 

communication of such an intentional meaning is impossible, but the purpose 
of this deeper communication is not to establish the kind of exactness sought 
in the sciences but to share with another person the way one uniquely 
conceptualizes the world. 

How Personal Concepts Are Communicated 

The way in which personal concepts are communicated is very similar 
to the way common concepts are communicated to us in our initial exposure to 
language. As we saw earlier, a child's concept may begin as something very 
different from that of their language community. It is shaped, however, as 
additional instances of a given signifler or word are provided. With the 
additional instances, eventually the child's concept becomes something close 
to the concept held by the language community at large. Likewise, the same is 
true regarding the communication of personal concepts. Here, however, the 
additional instances of a given signifier are all given by the same person, and 
the intention is not to understand a publically held concept in order to function 
within that language community, but rather to understand a personal concept 
in order to more intimately know that individual. 

With human beings personal concepts may begin as common concepts 
acquired through language, but because they become concepts that are of 
particular interest and importance to us we attach additional meaning and 
significance to them. Such concepts often more genuinely define us than our 
occupations or social statuses, and they are what we want others to know about 
us. Such concepts represent the objects of our greatest interest and affection. 
The man who loves dogs has a very different concept of those animals than 
other members of the language community. He is familiar with the common 
concept, but his concept includes things that the one who is not a dog lover 
would have difficulty imagining. Similarly, the man whose interest is money 
has a concept of money that goes far beyond the concept others signify by the 
same word. 

Ortega y Gasset says: 

In truth, nothing characterizes us as much as our 
field of attention ... This formula might well be 
accepted: tell me where your attention lies and I 
will tell you who you are. (Ortega y Gasset 26) 

This is certainly true, but our field of attention is always conceptually 
constructed. It is not what we perceive, that makes something important to us, 
but how we conceive it. More than our finger prints, the things that most truly 
identify and personalize us are those personal concepts which we have given 

97 



Concepts and Our Understanding of Them 

much time and attention to develop. These are the things we are often most 
attracted to in another person, and these are the things we share in our most 
intimate relationships. 

In a marriage one way a spouse intimately communicates to their mate 
is by expressing the unique intentional meaning they attribute to certain 
important concepts. The first step in such communication is for the spouse to 
convince their mate that what they mean by a certain signifier is not what is 
commonly meant, and that the concept to which a signifier commonly or even 
scientifically refers is of little use on this personal level. Without 
understanding our natural estrangement from the personal concepts of others, 
we will never even begin to enter into communication on this deeper and more 
personal level. 

After my wife has convinced me that I do not understand a particular 
concept that is important and unique to her, she then gives instances of what 
she does mean. As she sets out additional instances of her particular concept, 
I come ever closer to an understanding of her intentional meaning, just as I had 
through a similar process come to understand the public concept referenced by 
that word. The main difference lies in the fact that the private or personal 
concept is much more complex and includes many more aspects unique to my 
wife's experiences, judgments, and values. These unique aspects would 
certainly be eliminated from the public concept of that same signifier. 

Knowing God's Concepts 

To understand God' s concepts, we need first to understand that neither 
the common concepts of our language community, nor the exact concepts of 
W our science have equipped us to understand God's intentional meaning. Yet 

that does not mean that God is unable to communicate His meaning to us. If 
we consider that human beings are able to express their personal concepts by 
using the common concepts of their language community, it is not surprising 
that God can do the same. Indeed, God can make His concepts known to us, 
just as we can make our personal concepts known to others who are interested 
and give us enough time in order that we might express instances that denote 
our personal concepts. 

In order to intimately know my wife, I need to know how she uniquely 
conceptualizes the world. 1 begin by understanding that I am not naturally 
equipped with concepts that enable me to know her most important and unique 
concepts. The same is true of my relationship with God. More so than with 
other human beings, our communion with God is especially estranged since 
God's concepts do not originate within a common language community or 
culture the way the concepts of human beings do. Thus, in order for me to 
enter the fullness of communion with Him, it is especially important that my 

98 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

mind be renewed, and much of that renewal requires that I become acquainted 
with His personal concepts which are often very different from my own. The 
way God communicates His personal concepts is not unlike the way my wife 
communicates her personal concepts. That is, in much the same way that my 
wife sets forth examples or instances which serve as denotations of her unique 
concepts, God does the same thing through the instances and examples that are 
set forth in Scripture. 

It is even possible for God to express concepts for which our language 
does not have a word. But that should not be a surprise since human beings 
often do the same thing. Philosophers in particular often communicate new 
concepts by describing instances or examples of such concepts unique to them 
alone, and in doing so they are forced to use the existing language and its 
commonly held concepts. Perhaps eventually a particular signifler or word will 
be associated with that concept, but it is not essential to the initial 
communication of that concept. Eventually the word agape became a signifler 
for the unique concept of God's love that was being communicated with the 
instances of Scripture, but the word agape did not have such a meaning when 
the Bible was being written (Danaher 11-12). Indeed, God's unique concept 
of love did not exist for us prior to the Scriptural instances that created it. That 
is, the defining characteristics of love that are set forth in the thirteenth chapter 
of P' Corinthians, or the numerous examples of God's love such as Hosea's 
love for Gomer, or the fact that we are told that God gave His Son to be 
tortured and killed because of love, all serve as denotations of a concept of love 
that is very different from any concept of love that we might have acquired 
from our language community. But it is very natural that such a concept is not 
compatible with our concept, since the concept of love which is being set forth 
in Scripture is not a common concept at all, but rather God's personal concept 
of love. 

Conclusion 

The ancients and medievals, for the most part, imagined that concepts 
were God-given, or rather, God had equipped us with an ability to conceive the 
world correctly. But when we consider the instances that Scripture sets forth 
as extensions of a particular concept (as we see with the example of love), we 
often get a concept that is very different from the concept we commonly hold. 
That is because often the concepts that God wishes to communicate to us are 
His personal concepts, and personal concepts are very different from concepts 
formed either by our language communities or our scientific communities. The 
major difference between personal concepts and other concepts is the fact that 
personal concepts are not subject to changes in language and culture the way 
other concepts are. Of course our personal concepts may be influenced by such 

99 



Concepts and Our Understanding of Them 

changes but they are not dependent upon them simply because they are 
personal. Thus, the fact that the nature of language is ambiguous and unable 
to express precise and univocal meanings, does not prevent us from expressing 
personal concepts. Indeed, every postmodern writer who points out how 
ambiguous and unable language is to establish the kind of certainty and 
exactness that Enlightenment science had sought, is able, with that same 
language, to express their own personal concepts, and express them in deep and 
meaningful ways. 

Today, postmodern trends should not present a challenge to Christians, 
since the ultimate purpose of language, especially regarding God and His 
communication with us, is not to express a single, univocal meaning. That is 
the perversion of Enlightenment thinking. The ultimate purpose of language 
is to provide signs and syntax from which a speaker can express their own 
unique concepts. The point of intimate communication is not to share words 
only for the sake of understanding the extension of a specific signifier, but to 
understand the personal signification that a speaker attributes to a specific 
signifier. This is the point of intimate communication, and just as Derrida's 
purpose is to get us to understand his personal concept of what he means by 
''differance" (Derrida 73-101), similarly, God's purpose is to have us 
understand His personal concept of what He means by "love." And just as it 
is possible for Derrida to express his personal concepts, it is also possible for 
God to express Himself in similar fashion. 

The deconstructionists' claim that a multiplicity of meanings is 
possible from a given text is of course true, but no more so than the fact that 1 
can make all sorts of meanings out of what my wife says, if that is my intention. 
But if 1 am intent upon understanding the meaning or personal concept my wife 
is attempting to express, I can do that as well, and thereby reach a greater 
intimacy with her. The same is of course true of God and His communication 
with us. If my intention is to make a multiplicity of meanings from His words, 
nothing within my own nature or the nature of language prevents me. But if my 
intention is to know God's personal concepts in order to enter into greater 
intimacy with Him, nothing within my own nature or the nature of language 
prevents that as well. 

Of course, in order for us to understand God's personal concepts, we 
must come to Scripture with the intention of entering into an intimate 
communion with God by coming to know His personal concepts. To do so we 
must understand that neither our language community nor our scientific 
community have equipped us with concepts that enable us to understand what 
God is trying to communicate to us. If we come to Scripture believing that the 
concepts which our language community (or the concepts which an ancient 
biblical language community) provide are adequate, we will misunderstand the 

100 



Ashland Theological Journal 3/(1 999) 

Scripture as surely as we will misunderstand Derrida if we suppose that his 
concept of "differance" or "trace" corresponds to the concepts associated with 
such signifiers by our language community. With Scripture, God is putting 
forth His unique personal concepts as surely as Derrida is with his work. When 
reading a particularly unconventional philosopher, we very naturally understand 
that our conventional concepts will not allow us to understand what the author 
is attempting to express. Strangely we do not always apply this simple insight 
when reading Scripture. 

Postscript 

Because of the nature of the human mind to freely form concepts, and 
the nature of culture and language to arbitrarily change, we cannot achieve the 
kind of objective and universal conceptual understanding of the world that we 
have pursued from the time of the ancients until our present century. But all 
that means is that that ambition was ill conceived and based upon an illusion 
about the way the world is conceptualized. The truth is that our conceptual 
understanding of the world is never objective, but always subjective. Of 
course, there is an objective, external world but it is always conceptualized 
subjectively. Equally, there is an intersubjective reality to the concepts of 
particular language communities. The conceptual reality the Christian seeks, 
however, is purely subjective in that it is a reality which exists not "out there" 
within nature or a language community, but within the noetic reality that is 
God's mind. Furthermore, we have access to at least a portion of that ultimate 
reality because God has chosen to reveal to us through Scripture some of His 
most important personal concepts. 



Work Cited 

Aristotle. "De Interpretatione. " The Basic Works of Aristotle. Ed. Richard McKeon. 
New York: Random House, 1941. 16-24bl0 

Danaher, James. "On Loving and Liking." Philosophia Christi. Vol. 18:2. Fall, 1995, 
9-13. 

Derrida, Jacques. "Differance." Bulletin de la Societefrancaise de philosophic. LXll, 
No. 3. July-September. 1968, 73-101. 

Husserl, Edmund. Experience and Judgment. Trans. James S.Churchill, and Karl 
Ameriks. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. 1973. 

Ortega y Gasset, Jose. On Love: Aspects of a Single Theme. Trans. Toby Talbot. New 
York: Penguin Books, Inc. 1957. 



101 



Concepts and Our Understanding of Them 

Plato. The Meno. Eds. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Plato: Collected 
Dialogues. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989. 

Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics. Trans. Wade Baskin. New 
York: Philosophical Library, 1959. 

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. The Blue and Brown Books. New York: Harper and Row, 
Publishers. 1965. 

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Philosophical Investigations. Trans. G. E. M. Anscombe. New 
York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. 1968. 



102 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

Approaches to Genesis: A Review Article 

David W. Baker* 

Recent publications on the first book of the Bible give a useful 
overview of the various approaches which can elucidate a biblical text. This 
brief survey shows that publishers find a niche for things ranging between 
reprints of older classics and more popular thematic studies, coffee table books 
with illustrations and detailed scholarly investigations. All readers should find 
something of interest from the works reviewed here. 

Herman Gunkel was a pioneer in the area of the form critical analysis 
of the Bible, most particularly Genesis and the Psalms. The Mercer Library of 
Biblical Studies has provided a useful translation from German of the third 
edition of his very important commentary, which originally appeared in 1901 .' 
Placing Gunkel in his context, Ernest W. Nicholson provides a 7 page 
introduction. 

The volume is important as a landmark in the history of interpretation 
of Scripture, especially exemplifying the critical perspective. This is noteworthy 
for the reader when seeing the division of the text, and comment upon it, into 
the sources proposed by the Documentary Hypothesis. Since Gunkel also has 
his own view on how the text is to be reordered, finding comment on any 
particular section can be a bit daunting, especially since there is scripture index 
for all the passages discussed apart from genesis itself For example, the brief 
discussion of Gen 2:4a (attributed by Gunkel to the Priestly source) 
immediately precedes the discussion of 1 : 1 -23, and follows the commentary on 
'The Primeval History According to J', which itself covers 2:4b-3:24; 4:2-16; 
4:1, 17-24; 4:25, 26, 5:29; 6:1-6; the J rendition of the Flood story (various 
verses and parts of verses between Gen 6-8); 9:18-27; the Table of Nations 
(9:18, 19, 10:1b, 8-19, 21, 25-30); and 11:1-9. 

The book, while very dated, provides interesting and intriguing points 
of theology and exegesis which, even if one does not agree, deserve thought 
and interaction. His introduction, entitled 'The Legends of Genesis,' lays out 
his understanding of form criticism and how it applies to genesis. This includes 
a discussion of the various genres, the most important being 'legend,' as well 
as the history of their purported development and transmission. 

If nothing else, the work is ingenious, but does raise questions as to 
its relation to a real, existent text. Even those who do not agree with the 
author's suggestions as to textual composition and structure must grapple with 

*David Baker (Ph.D., University of London) is Professor of Old Testament and 
Semitic Languages at ATS. 



103 



Approaches to Genesis: A Review Article 

the real problems that do reside in the text and its interpretation. The book uses 
untransliterated Hebrew and Greek, so the lay person will find the going 
difficult. The book should be in all academic theological libraries, but pastors 
and teachers would probably not find it as a high priority for them. 

A completely different audience and approach lies behind the UBS 
Handbook Series, which also just released a volume on Genesis.^ The goal of 
the series is "to assist practicing Bible translators as they carry out the 
important task of putting God's Word into the many Inguages spoken in the 
world today." To do this they provide "valuable exegetical, historical, cultural, 
and linguistic information" (i). They thus have a much more practical than 
academic purpose. This is illustrated, for example by the inclusion of sections 
on translating 'adam and the names of God, but none on hypotheses concerning 
composition and transmission of the text. 

The layout of the commentary is to provide sections in both the 
Revised Standard version and Today's English Version. Then comment is 
provided, usually on every word or phrase of each verse. There are no foreign 
languages used, nor are there many references to secondary sources apart fi^om 
other translations (and E. Speiser's Anchor Bible commentary volume), which 
is both boon and bane. Attention is drawn directly to the text, rather than what 
many others have said about it, so there is more immediacy to the commentary. 
A disadvantage is not knowing in every case whether the interpretation 
presented is generally accepted, unanimous, or idiosyncratic. 

The volume will probably not be the sole source which readers will 
consult in studying the book, but it provides a good commentary in a succinct 
and readable form. All theological libraries need the volume, and many teachers 
and preachers will surely consult it often. 

A completely different, visual approach to Genesis is taken by Ada 
Feyerick in what is described as "a pictorial panorama of the ancient Near East, 
its history, its culture, its people, and its impact on Genesis."^ In the foreword, 
William G. Dever, a leading American archaeologist, briefly discusses the 
importance of archaeology for providing a context for the biblical stories. Cyrus 
Gordon and Nahum Sama, both distinguished scholars of the ancient Near East 
and the Bible, provide 2-3 pages of introductory comment to each of the 
chapters, which are headed: "Mesopotamia: Land of Myths," "The Mists of 
Time: Genesis 1-11," "Canaan: Land Between Empires," "The Patriarchs: 
Genesis 12-36," "Egypt: The Nurturing Land," and "Joseph: Prelude to 
Nationhood: Genesis 37-50." Apparently Feyerick wrote the text which 
accompanies the illustrations within each chapter, though her role is not spelled 
out. 

There is no textual commentary on Genesis, but many lavish 
photographs of sites, landscapes, artifacts and texts engagingly illustrate a 

104 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 {\ 999) 

number of biblical passages. These are supplemented by maps, chronological 
timelines, and a family tree. The format and size suggest that the book is 
intended for coffee table and casual perusal, which is a valid entre into the 
biblical text, as long as one is aware that this is only a beginning. The volume 
will be useftil for teachers looking for illustrative material, and would be well 
placed in church libraries, it is unfortunate that some of the photographs, 
especially of geographical locations, were not professionally done, since a 
number are somewhat blurred. 

The last two works reviewed here are more detailed studies of 
different aspects of the book of Genesis. Desmond Alexander, formerly of The 
Queen's University, Belfast, goes beyond the strict parameters of this review 
in that he explores important theological themes through the entire Pentateuch.'' 
His study is at an elementary level since he found that "first-year students of 
theology and religious studies have very limited understanding of the basic 
contents of the Pentateuch" (xiv). The same can be said for seminary students 
and parishioners, so the volume should have a wide appeal. To aid those with 
only rudimentary knowledge of the Pentateuch, Alexander provides simple 
maps of the ancient Near East in the 2"'' millennium, the Sinai wilderness and 
2 suggested routes for the journey from Egypt to Canaan, and diagrams of the 
layout of the Israelite camp surrounding the Tabernacle, a schematic floor plan 
of the Tabernacle, and a cut-away diagram of it. The first chapter of the book 
also briefly surveys the content of the Pentateuch. 

The themes or motifs which are presented follow a canonical order. 
They are shown as they are 'bom' in the biblical text of the Pentateuch, and 
traced as they 'grow up' into the New Testament. The themes explored are: "the 
royal lineage in Genesis" which looks at the importance of family line, seed and 
genealogy; "paradise lost" and the importance of the motif of the earth/land 
from creation on; "the blessing of the nations" looks at blessing and curse 
beginning with Eden; "by faith Abraham" and the seminal covenant with him 
and his descendants. Exodus introduces "who is Lord?" looking at the name 
and nature of the covenant God of Sinai, "the Passover" as redemption and 
ritual, "the covenant at Sinai," and "the Tabernacle." Leviticus allows the study 
of holiness, sacrifice and food regulations. Numbers explores the people's 
murmurings, while Deuteronomy leads to study of "love and loyalty" where 
God's love is set in a covenantal or treaty context, and election. 

As can be seen by the number of motifs which are covered in such a 
short space, they all are only superficial, but that fits the scope, and need, of the 
volume. This volume also deserves a place on church library shelves and would 
well serve for an adult Bible study class. 

Finally we will look at a massive technical analysis of the "Blessing 
of Jacob" (Gen 49).^ The author, Raymond de Hoop, a Dutch scholar, has 

105 



Approaches to Genesis: A Review Article 

worked on this passage for a decade and shares here the fruits of his study. This 
theologically significant chapter is fraught with textual, translational, historical 
and interpretational issues which the author addresses. Verse 10, which speaks 
of a sceptre and Shiloh illustrate some of the difficulties, as does J. Astruc 
using the chapter as an example of isolating two separate sources because of 
differences in the use of the divine names. 

In the first chapter, "Status quaestionis," de Hoop points out 
translational problems with no less than 22 words and phrases from the chapter 
He presents the views of 6 scholars regarding the chapter's origin, which is 
related to identification of its genre (5 additional scholars) and provenance 
(most viewing it to be old- 1400-1000 BC). Following a useful recapitulation 
of the questions involved, the author lists 6 desiderata (correct translation, 
structural analysis, genre analysis in light of ancient Near Eastern literature, a 
synchronic analysis seeking ideological purpose, a diachronic analysis seeking 
to determine the growth of the tradition, and an analysis of the chapter against 
the background of Israelite history). 

Chapter 2 addresses text, translation and structure. The fact that we are 
dealing with Hebrew poetry, which itself is only very inadequately understood, 
exacerbates the difficulties. Here he painstakingly examines each word, verbal 
form and strophe. The analysis itself is very technical and necessitates a good 
measure of Hebrew sophistication, though this does not hold for the entire 
book, which non-Hebrew readers will be able to follow with perseverance. This 
chapter, like all of the book, is very heavily footnoted with supporting 
secondary literature. De Hoop takes 'Shiloh' in v. 10 to be 'tribute. ..to him,' 
based on Ugaritic and following a proposal made by W. L. Moran. This 
analysis covers 167 pages. In chapter 3, the author suggests the genre of the 
chapter to be a collection of 'testamentary sayings' similar to those legitimizing 
royalty. He also finds it necessary (chapter 4) to look at the passage in its larger 
context of 47:29-49:33, which he calls 'the Deathbed Episode.' He looks at this 
passage synchronically, how it fits into the present Genesis as a whole and its 
own content and structure. 

Previous study on the chapter is recounted and evaluated in chapter 5, 
and a diachronic study follows in chapter 6. Here de Hoop concludes that there 
are two layers or textual tendencies which are an earlier 'pro-Joseph' and a 
current 'pro-Judah,' though the chapter should be read as a unit with its 
context. He finds the final purpose of the section is to legitimize the rise of 
Judah, a younger brother, to a position superior to that of his older siblings. He 
holds that the 'pro-Joseph' version had a northern, Israelite origin around 
Shechem, dating from about 1 250 BC, and the final version from about the time 
of Solomon, much earlier than much critical scholarship has recently placed any 
of Genesis, or the Pentateuch as whole, for that matter. 

106 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

While there are elements of the analysis and interpretation with which 
scholars from across the spectrum will disagree, the work is a model of method 
and presentation, starting with the text itself on its own terms and thoroughly 
analyzing it before seeing how others have understood it. The book is also a 
model of clarity, being very 'user- friendly' with fi^equent summaries of what 
has been discussed and the conclusions reached. All Genesis scholars will need 
to consult the work, which will, unfortunately, be restricted mainly to libraries 
due to its unconscionable price. 

Endnotes 

' Herman Gunkel, Genesis, trans). Mark E. Biddle (Macon, GA: Mercer University 

Press, 1997). Ixxxviii + 478 pp., cloth, $60.00. 

- William D. Reybum and Eun McG. Fry, A Handbook on Genesis (New York: United 

Bible Societies, 1997). x + 1 149 pp., paper, $37.99. 

^ Ada Feyerick, with Cyrus H. Gordon and Nahum M. Sama, Genesis: World of Myths 

and Patriarchs (New York: New York University Press, 1996). 256 pp. Cloth, $60.00. 

Quote is from the back dust jacket. 

■* T. Desmond Alexander, From Paradise to the Promised Land: An Introduction to the 

Main Themes of the Pentateuch (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998). xxv + 228 pp., paper, 

$14.99. 

■"' Raymond de Hoop, Genesis 49 in its Literary and Historical Context, OTS 29 

(Leiden/Boston: Brill, 1999). xvi + 695 pp., cloth, $200.00. 



107 



Biblical Studies Library 

The Biblical Studies Library features North American 
paperback editions of original monographs of proven 
academic merit. These works model sound exegesis and 
theology and make a significant contribution to biblical 
scholarship. They are presented here in affordable edi- 
tions so they may gain the wider hearing they deserve. 






David Crmf 



Jesus the 
Intercessor 

Prayer and Christology 
in Luke-Acts 

David Crump 

This meticulously researched 
thesis on the significance of 
Jesus' prayer life is "required 
reading for anyone interested 
in prayer in Luke-Acts or in 
the individual passages." 
(Journal of Biblical Literature) 



0-8010-2221-5 
$26.99p 

Other volumes in the series 



310 pages 



Paul, Scripture, and Ethics 

A Study of 1 Corinthians 5-7 
Brian S. Rosner 



The Structure of Hebrews 

A Text-Linguistic Anaiysis 
George H. Guthrie 



0-8010-2212-6 
$23.99p 



264 pages 



0-8010-2193-6 
$17.99p 



1 92 pages 



Marriage as a Covenant 

Biblical Law and Ethics 
as Developed from Malachi 
Gordon P. Hugenberger 



The Descent of Christ 

Ephesians 4:7-11 and Traditional 
Hebrew Imagery 
W. Hall Harris III 



0-8010-2192-8 
$34.99p 



448 pages 



0-801 0-21 91 -X 
$22.99p 



256 pages 



o 
o 



S BAKER BOOK HOUSE 



www.bakerbooks.com 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

David W. Baker, Elaine A. Heath with Morven Baker., More Light on the Path: 
Daily Scripture Readings in Hebrew and Greek. Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Books, 
1998. 

Beginning students in biblical languages are often surprised to discover the 
richness of meaning communicated by scripture texts in their original tongues. Although 
many fine English translations are available, none can flilly reproduce the artistry of 
Isaiah's rhetoric or the intricate nuances of Paul's labyrinthine Greek. Sadly, however, 
many find it difficult to sustain language study amidst the demands of ministry. And for 
those who succeed in doing so, the constant need to refer to grammars and lexicons 
usually makes reading scripture in the original languages more a labor of the mind than 
a feast for the soul. 

More Light On the Path is thus a welcome resource, for it invites its reader to 
develop facility in biblical languages within the context of devotional reflection on 
scripture. The book comprises a series of daily readings, each of which consists of three 
texts: a brief prayer or meditation followed by short readings from the Greek New 
Testament and the Hebrew Bible. The scripture readings are accompanied by notes 
which offer morphological analyses of difficult forms and definitions of uncommon 
words, allowing the reader to grasp quickly the sense of the readings without recourse 
to other sources. The texts are united by a title which suggests interrelationships 
between them, and the daily units are joined with others into weekly units grouped by 
subjects that draw from biblical themes and liturgical calendars (e.g. hope, prayer, 
suffering, worship, Advent, Easter, Simhat Torah). An explanatory preface and list of 
abbreviations, as well as a calendar of weekly readings and scripture and subject 
indexes, facilitate the book's ease of use as a devotional guide. 

Although the daily readings are sure to enhance one's competence in the biblical 
languages, the deeper value of the book, in this reader's opinion, is to be found in its 
capacity to stimulate meditation and prayer. Since the readings are brief, the technical 
aspects of grammar and terminology can be worked through quickly, allowing the reader 
time to read each text again and again. Pondering a text repeatedly in the original 
language unlocks new meanings and spiritual truths, and these are deepened as reflection 
is extended to the related scripture passage and the meditation. Each day's readings thus 
prompt the contemplation of scripture, a discipline too seldom practiced in a fast-paced 
society. 

Under the daily pressure of busy schedules, even devotional time can become 
task-driven and perfunctory. More Light on the Path allows a prayerful digestion of 
scripture which nourishes both mind and soul. Those looking for a new and vital 
devotional experience will find a refreshing answer in this book. L. Daniel Hawk 

John Van Seters, Prologue to History: The Yahwist as Historian in Genesis, 
Louisville, KY: Westminster/ John Knox, 367 pp., 1992. 

Since his important book published in 1975 {Abraham in History and Tradition, 
Yale University Press), John Van Seters has been part of a revolution in Pentateuchal 
studies, redefining the way many scholars understand the role of the Yahwist (author of 



109 



Book Reviews 

J in Wellhausen's older formulations). Most who work in the framework of the classical 
documentary hypothesis assume J was written in the ninth century BC by a historian of 
the southern kingdom, Judah. But Van Seters has argued that the Yahwist was a 
historian who worked in the period of the exile. In his earlier books. Van Seters has 
emphasized parallels with Greek history. Here he considers the significance of both 
Mesopotamian and Greek traditions from the first millennium BC as evidence for the 
exilic date for the Yahwist. 

In his earlier work. Van Seters limited himself primarily to the Abrahamic 
narrative. This book extends his analysis to Genesis as a whole, applying his methods 
to the Primeval History, Jacob traditions, and the Joseph story. He continues to argue 
that the whole book has pre-J materials that were taken up and expanded by J, and 
further supplemented later by a priestly writer (P). Primarily however, and this is the 
fundamental contribution of his work, he concludes that the Yahwist was written as a 
"prologue" in form and function to the Deuteronomistic history (Deuteronomy-2 Kings). 
He considers Genesis and Exodus-Numbers the two major parts of the Yahwist's work. 

Van Seters complains that since the days of H. Gunkel, Genesis has been 
identified as a composite of myth and legend, which has precluded subsequent scholars 
from regarding and treating J as a work of history. On the assumption that the Yahwist 
was first and foremost a historian, this volume compares Genesis with works of ancient 
historiography from Greece and Mesopotamia. Van Seters addresses the roles of myth, 
legend, and etiology in the various forms of ancient historiography. He concludes that 
Genesis presents us with "a type of antiquarian historiography concerned with origins 
and a national tradition of people and place" (page 22). 

As always. Van Seters has written a book that is provocative and stimulating. His 
work has contributed to the current state of Pentateuchal studies, which is not unlike the 
political reality during the judges period; everyone is doing what is right in their own 
eyes (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 21:25). 

There is much that we could criticize in the author's methods. But I will limit 
myself to two simple observations. First, Van Seters continues to insist that "Israel 
shares much more with Greece than it does with Mesopotamia and Egypt" (page 42). 
Such a position is hard to defend in light of ethnic, linguistic and socio-political 
historical realities. Despite the author's protestations to the contrary, the ancients were 
more inclined to recognize the sociological continuity of the various people groups of 
Western Asia. By this I mean that Egypt, Syria-Palestine, and Mesopotamia were 
considered contiguous political identities throughout most of ancient history prior to the 
Persian period. Unfortunately, Van Seters's books tend to perpetuate the old mistakes 
of failing to appreciate Israel's role in its ancient Near Eastern context. 

My second main objection is the way the author uses the Mesopotamian materials 
selectively. At those points when he acknowledges what is surely undeniable 
Mesopotamian parallels with Genesis, he restricts the connections to later sources, 
denying that the Yahwist had access to anything besides Neo-Babylonian and Neo- 
Assyrian material. But the problem is the process of literary influence. Van Seters 
attempts to locate the Yahwist in the exilic period and therefore claims the ancient 
historian had easy access to the leading texts of Mesopotamia during the Persian period. 
But the mechanics of such literary borrowing remain problematic. Very recent studies 
have explored instead a second millennium Amorite connection between early Israel and 

110 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

certain Mesopotamian traditions (especially legal traditions). Such explanations are 
more promising, and might eventually show Van Seters's approach is untenable. 

Bill T. Arnold, Asbury Theological Seminary 

Gordon J. Wenham, Numbers, Old Testament Guides, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic 
Press, 1997, 130 pp. 

Iain W. Provan. 1 &2 Kings, Old Testament Guides, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic 
Press, 1997, 125 pp. 

The publication of the above volumes completes Old Testament Guides, a series 
of concise handbooks written by members of the Society for Old Testament Study (U.K.) 
and designed for student use. Each of the volumes includes an introduction to the 
content of the book, a survey and assessment of critical issues and recent scholarship, 
cross-references to relevant works in the discipline, annotated bibliographies, and an 
attention to theological perspectives. The series has distinguished itself for its uniformly 
high quality and clarity and therefore constitutes an important resource for student, 
pastor, and scholar alike. 

Those familiar with Gordon Wenham's fine commentary on Numbers (TOTC) 
will recognize in this introduction the lucid exposition and judicious discussion of 
critical issues that characterize the former work. Wenham excels in synthesizing a vast 
body of scholarship and presenting the key issues in a succinct manner that focuses the 
reader's attention squarely upon the text. His survey of Numbers consists of six 
chapters. The first explores the difficult question of the book's structure and the 
arrangement of its contents, beginning with a discussion of the issue before elaborating 
the views of Olson, Douglas, Milgrom, as well as his own. The second engages the 
equally difficult task of identifying and explaining the diverse genres which comprise 
Numbers (e.g. census lists, purity rules, dedication records, travel notes, complaints, 
cultic calendars). A third chapter offers a thorough yet concise account of the 
fragmentary and documentary hypotheses as these pertain to the book's composition and 
concludes with a discussion of holistic readings, attempts to combine synchronic and 
diachronic approaches (with particular attention on the work of J. de Vaulx), and 
contemporary diachronic analyses. The relationship between Numbers and history is 
explored in the fourth chapter. After a discussion of scholars who see the book as a 
response to issues faced in Jehud in the S"" Century B.C. (J. Gray, M. Douglas), Wenham 
presents extrabiblical (archaeological discoveries, ancient Near Eastern parallels) and 
biblical (e.g. outlook, terminology) evidence for the antiquity of the book's contents. 
The fifth chapter addresses the theology of Numbers, classified in terms of thematic or 
kerygmatic approaches. The volume concludes with a valuable discussion of the 
interpretation of Numbers in later biblical and extrabiblical literature. 

Iain Provan 's volume on 1 & 2 Kings also comprises six chapters and begins with 
an excellent introduction which orients the reader to the historiographical, narrative, and 
didactic features of the books. The next chapter examines Kings as narrative literature. 
Provan begins with a discussion of the complicated questions of authorship, editing, and 
composition and, after noting that "traditional" critical scholarship has rarely read Kings 
as a coherent narrative, reviews the contributions of newer narrative approaches 
(illustrating the value of these by applying them to three difficult texts). The third 

111 



Book Reviews 

chapter considers the issues of history and historiography, prefacing the review of issues 
with a short but insightful reflection on the nature of historiography. A related issue, the 
contention that the writers of Kings have distorted reality when presenting Israelite 
religion, constitutes the focus of the fourth chapter. Provan reviews the issue in detail 
and cogently points out that much of the tension derives from a scholarly community 
that has developed its own views about the religion of Israel (and religious life in 
general). The fifth chapter elaborates larger themes in Kings (the God of Israel, true 
worship, a moral universe, and divine promise) and explores the extent to which the 
books are configured by a Deuteronomistic perspective. The final chapter places Kings 
in its canonical context and continues the discussion of the essential role of perspective 
in the book's canonization and later interpretation. 

Both of these fine volumes succeed as "guides" on a number of levels. First, they 
engage relevant scholarship and offer judicious assessments of the contributions of 
various scholars and approaches. For those who wish to read more, the authors provide 
select bibliographies at the end of each chapter, often (though not always) with 
annotations. On another level, they provide overviews which enable the introductory 
reader to gain a sense of each book as a whole. Finally, they engage their readers in the 
task of interpretation itself by pointing to specific issues raised by the biblical text and 
presenting ways of addressing them. For those wanting to engage in deeper study of 
Numbers and Kings, these volumes offer a good place to begin. L. Daniel Hawk 

J. Cheryl Exum (ed.), The Historical Books: A Sheffield Reader, The Biblical 
Seminar 40, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997, 383 pp. 

This latest volume in the Sheffield Reader series collects twenty of the best 
articles on the Historical Books published in the Journal for the Study of the Old 
re5tome«/ between the years 1976 and 1996. These are grouped into three divisions — 1) 
Joshua, Judges, Ruth; 2) Samuel, Kings; and 3) Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah — with half 
the essays dealing with Samuel and Kings. The entries illustrate a wide range of 
methodological approaches, with particular emphasis on literary and social-scientific 
studies. 

Keith Whitelam's important article ("The Identity of Early Israel: The 
Realignment and Transformation of Late Bronze-Iron Age Palestine") opens the volume 
with a radical challenge to approaches which place too much reliance on the biblical text 
to explain the complex transformation and realignment of Late Bronze-Iron Age 
Palestine. George Coats ("The Book of Joshua: Heroic Saga or Conquest Theme?") 
appropriates a form-critical approach to argue that the story of Joshua, like the story of 
Moses, is cast in the form of a heroic saga, suggesting stronger connections to the 
Pentateuch than to Judges. Lori Rowlett ("Inclusion, Exclusion and Marginality in the 
Book of Joshua") adopts an ideological approach which views Joshua as an instrument 
of power which defines inclusion in terms of willingness to submit to the voluntary 
power structure represented by Joshua. W. J. Dumbrell ("Tn Those Days There Was No 
King in Israel; Every Man Did What Was Right in His Own Eyes': The Purpose of the 
Book of Judges Reconsidered ") asserts that Judges illustrates YH WH's commitment to 
Israel despite the latter's repeated intransigence, thus giving hope to the exiles who had 



112 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

seen the monarchy fall. Jon L. Berquist's essay ("Role Dedifferentiation in the Book of 
Ruth") concludes the first section with an exploration of the ways in which role reversals 
in the book deconstruct social roles. 

The second section begins with an essay by Frank Anthony Spina ("Eli's Seat: 
The Transition from Priest to Prophet in 1 Samuel 1 -4"), which employs a close reading 
to demonstrate that Eli's "falling from the seat" intimates the deposition of one form of 
leader (priest) and its replacement by another (prophet). LyleEslinger ("Viewpoints and 
Point of View in 1 Samuel 8-12") challenges the historical-critical tendency to neglect 
the narratorial perspective which stands behind the story and serves as guide through the 
textual complexities. Thomas R. Preston ("The Heroism of Saul: Patterns of Meaning 
in the Narrative of the Early Kingship") sees a common pattern in the stories of Samuel, 
Saul, and David ("rise of the lowly, fall of the might") which elevates Saul as a heroic 
king in contrast to David. James W. Flanagan ("Chiefs in Israel") applies sociological 
models on the rise and character of chiefdoms to elucidate the transitional period of the 
reign of Saul and the early years of David. Leo G. Perdue ("is There Anyone Left of 
the House of Saul ...?': Ambiguity and the Characterization of David in the Succession 
Narrative") describes the manner by which the Succession Narrative constructs an 
ambivalent portrait of David (both compassionate and ruthless). Hans J.L. Jensen draws 
on the work of Rene Girard to elaborate the thematic interaction of mimetism, desire, 
rivalry, and violence that configures the Succession Narrative. 

The essays on Kings focus mainly on Solomon. Hugh S. Pyper ("Judging the 
Wisdom of Solomon: The Two- Way Effect of Intertextuality") reads the story of the 
cannibal mothers (2 Kings 6) against the story of the two prostitutes and Solomon (1 
Kings 3), revealing the glory and shame of human nature and the failure of the 
monarchy. Stuart Lasine ("The Ups and Downs of Monarchical Justice: Solomon and 
Jehoram in an Intertextual World") offers an excellent discussion of the concept of 
intertextuality and narrative analogy in response to Pyper's essay. K.I. Parker 
("Solomon as Philosopher King?: The Nexus of Law and Wisdom in 1 Kings 1-11") 
argues that the story of Solomon, both positively and negatively, illustrates that Wisdom 
must be bound to Torah. Richard Coggins ("On Kings and Disguises") explores stories 
which share the common motif of disguise, by or in the presence of the king. 

An essay by Sara Japhet ("The Historical Reliability of Chronicles: The History 
of the Problem and its Place in Biblical Research") opens the last section with a 
thorough overview of scholarship on the topic. Donald F. Murray ("Dynasty, People, 
and the Future: The Message of Chronicles") considers three key passages and 
concludes that the books of Chronicles do not look to the restoration of the Davidic 
monarchy but to a future open to new possibilities through temple and worship. David 
Kraemer ("On the Relationship of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah") appropriates 
literary methods to argue that Ezra and Nehemiah constitute two distinct works with 
divergent ideologies. Kenneth D. Tollefson and H.G.M. Williamson ("Nehemiah as 
Cultural Revitalization: An Anthropological Perspective") define and apply a model of 
cultural revitalization to the Nehemiah material, concluding that the general sequence 
of events follows the model and reflecting on implications for issues of composition and 
history. Tamara C. Eskenazi ("Out from the Shadows: Biblical Women in the Post- 
exilic Era") draws on biblical texts and the Elephantine documents to make the women 
of this period more visible. 

113 



Book Reviews 

The articles offer a superb cross-section of contemporary approaches and issues, 
and all make stimulating reading. The collection will therefore be of particular value to 
those who are looking for a way into contemporary scholarship on the Historical Books 
or who enjoy being challenged by new perspectives and insights. L. Daniel Hawk 

Richard D. Nelson, Joshua, Old Testament Library, Louisville: Westminster/John 
Knox, 1997, hb., 309 pp. 

Richard D. Nelson's commentary on Joshua is the latest volume in the highly 
esteemed Old Testament Library series. The commentary proper is preceded by a select 
bibliography of commentaries and special studies related to the book of Joshua (pp. xiii- 
xviii). Thereafter Nelson launches into the usual study of introductory matters, 
discussing issues like the historical significance of the book of Joshua, the genesis of the 
biblical book, its genre and literary style, key theological themes, and the book's 
portrayal of the figure of Joshua (pp. 1-24). Following the pattern of most volumes in 
this series, after the introduction the author provides separate treatment of each literary 
unit in the book. For each unit Nelson offers his own fresh translation of the Hebrew 
original (often with a parallel translation of the Greek variant), extensive textual notes, 
synthetic comments on the style and intention of the unit, and finally paragraph by 
paragraph commentary. At the back Nelson provides a helpful Appendix listing modem 
site identifications of places named in Joshua (pp. 285-89), an index of biblical 
references and other ancient sources, and an index of subjects. The reader misses an 
index of secondary authors cited in the book. 

Like most critical scholars today. Nelson views Joshua as one portion of the larger 
literary complex encompassing Deuteronomy to 2 Kings, commonly known as the 
Deuteronomistic History (DH). Nelson attempts to reconstruct the evolution of this 
book by exploiting apparent tensions in the text. He grants that some of the stories (like 
Rahab) existed independently earlier, but these were incorporated into the 
Deuteronomistic work in the late seventh century B.C. Convinced that some portions 
of the book presuppose the exile. Nelson proposes a second redaction of the book during 
the exile. 

Operating from a radical hermeneutic or suspicion. Nelson finds the book of 
Joshua to be virtually worthless as a source for understanding the late second 
millennium B.C. events and fimes it purports to describe. In his own words, "Joshua's 
true historical value consists in what it reveals about the social and ideological world of 
those who told these stories, collected and redacted them, and then read the resulting 
literary product. Joshua is a historical witness to what later generations believed had 
happened to there ancestors." (p. 4). It matters not a whit to Nelson whether or not the 
Israelites were deluded in their beliefs. Influenced by N. K. Gottwald, he rejects the 
notion of an ethnically distinct Israel taking over the land of Canaan. Rather, the people 
who came to call themselves "Israel" represented "elements of the indigenous population 
of Palestine attracted to new economic opportunities in the highlands and/or disaffected 
by life dominated by the economic and political opportunities in the highlands and/or 
disaffected by life dominated by the economic and political power of the Canaanite city- 
states" (p. 4). According to Nelson the toponym and boundary lists in chapters 13-21 



114 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

represent "literary exercises in cognitive mapping, performed for social and ideological 
purposes," which, like the conquest stories in the preceding chapters "strengthened 
national identity and assured Israel's secure possession of its ancestral lands" (p. 12). 
The literary figure of Joshua "serves as a forerunner for the ideological role played by 
later kings, and especially for the expansionistic and reforming policies of Josiah" (p. 
22). 

In a commentary of almost 300 pages Nelson offers many insightful exegetical 
insights, particularly on literary features of the text. While some will question his high 
view of the Old Greek textual tradition, his juxtaposing of translations of the Masoretic 
text and Old Greek variants is very helpful. However, with the minimalist perspective 
adopted by Nelson, too much time is spent speculating about the evolution of a 
particular text and not enough on answering the questions which most readers of the 
book of Joshua actually ask. But some will recognize a certain irony in this 
commentary, which encourages them to interpret it with the same hermeneutic of 
suspicion with which he approaches the book of Joshua. For, having read through the 
volume, one wonders if its value does not lie more in what it reveals about the social and 
ideological world of those who comment on biblical books than in the meaning and 
message intended by the authors of biblical books. Alongside this volume a student of 
the book of Joshua should read the commentary by Richard Hess (Joshua: An 
Introduction and Commentary, TOTC [Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1996], which 
appeared one year earlier and offers a much more positive view of the book's historical 
significance. Daniel I. Block, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 

Barnabas Lindars, S.S.F. Judges 1-5: A New Translation and Commentary, A. D. 
H. Mayes, ed., Edinburgh: T«&T Clark, Ltd, 1995, 302 pp. 

At the time of his death in 1991, Lindars was preparing a new volume on Judges 
for the International Critical Commentary. The volume under review represents his 
work on the first five chapters of the book, with minor editorial modifications and a brief 
introduction by A. D. H. Mayes. To use the word "encyclopedic" with reference to the 
commentary would not be an exaggeration. Lindars works through these chapters with 
a meticulous attention to detail and offers informed and thorough discussions of every 
feature of the text. Following the focus of the ICC, his comments are heavily weighted 
towards conventional historical-critical concerns. Each section opens with an analysis 
of sources and redaction before moving to an elaboration of the respective verses, with 
attention to the grammar and vocabulary of the text. 

The commentary makes its most valuable contributions when addressing 
historical, geographical, lexical, and text-critical issues. Most distinctive is the attention 
given to comparisons of the Septuagintal and Masoretic versions of the book, both of 
which Lindars regards as authentic witnesses to the original text. The depth of 
discussion on these issues is well beyond what one may find in any other commentary. 
(The section on Judges 1 takes up 85 pages!). 

Lindars is skeptical of the historical reliability of much of the material in the book. 
He follows mainline scholarship in viewing Judges 1 as a "pastiche" of materials drawn 
from various sources and brought together at a late date. While the stories of the judges 



115 



Book Reviews 

themselves probably constitute older material, he nonetheless believes that the sequence 
in which they are told is a creation of the redactor, who is also responsible for 
fabricating transitional material. From this persepctive, Lindars holds the opinion that 
'ihe historical value of the Prelude" (Judges 1) "is slight," (p. 7), while the story of 
Othniel displays a "patently artificial character" (p. 129 ). 

Lindars' exposition is marked by clarity and precision, but it presumes a well- 
informed reader willing to follow complex arguments on composition, transmission, and 
history. The commentary will therefore be most welcome in an academic setting and 
may not serve as well the interests of those seeking a ready homiletical or theological 
resource. L. Daniel Hawk 

Kirsten Nielsen, Ruth, The Old Testament Library, trans. Edward Broadbridge. 
Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997, 99 pp. $16.99. 

Recently, the book of Ruth has become quite a fashionable focus of female 
scholarship. Interestingly, however, in all the scholarly material around, this is the only 
commentary of Ruth written by a woman. Besides simply affirming that Ruth is a good 
story, Nielsen has two basic purposes in this delightfully concise and succinct 
commentary. First of all she interprets the book of Ruth in intertextual relation with the 
matriarchal sagas and secondly, she accepts the inevitable reality that the book of Ruth 
is a political statement in defense of the Davidic monarchy and its claims to the kingship. 
Thus, for Nielsen, the focus of the book of Ruth is the genealogy. 

In a protracted introduction, the real focus of the commentary, Nielsen elaborates 
her methodology. She is concerned to examine the text of Ruth closely in order to 
ascertain its structures - the various ways in which the book can be outlined, the 
repetition of key concepts, the retelling of events, the way in which conclusions become, 
or serve as, beginnings. It is through these structures that she can later compare Ruth 
and the matriarchal stories. She delights in the resonances between the Ruth text and the 
Joseph and Jonah narratives as she explores the genre of Ruth, suggesting a possible 
intertextual ity there. Nevertheless her main intention is to explore the text as it connects 
with the matriarchal stories. 

Drawing upon postmodern trends in textual analysis, Nielsen first premises that 
language does not have a fixed meaning, but is multiple in meaning, changing as 
individual experience changes the reader. This makes demands of the reader, whose 
interpretation of any text is ongoing and continuous, influenced by the many contexts 
in which reading takes place, the variety of reading experience, indeed one's reading 
history. These all provide an intertextual ity for interpretation. From her perspective, 
this is Nielsen's reading of the text, and because of that the reader is engaged in a lively 
and vigorous dialogue with Nielsen. Furthermore, Nielsen has read extensively. Her 
bibliography reveals her engagement with other scholarship. 

Then, Nielsen offers likely, possible and reasonable interpretations based on the 
network of texts which gave rise to the book. The text of Ruth itself points to 
intertextual ities. Thus, when the writer of Ruth makes specific reference to the 
matriarchs Leah and Rachel and Tamar, then the writer is inviting the reader to explore 
Ruth in relation to those texts. As a story of barrenness being overcome by divine 



116 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

intervention, Ruth can be read alongside the stories of Rebekah and Sarah. Nielsen 
reads Ruth with the stories of the matriarchs, because Ruth is a matriarch! 

Nielsen acknowledges the problems with the genealogy which concludes Ruth. 
For some scholars the genealogy is considered an addition, suggesting that the Davidic 
dynasty appropriated this congenial story to support the monarchy's diplomatic/political 
alliances. For Nielsen, the genealogy is integral to the story and, more than likely, the 
reason why Ruth the book was written! If, as Nielsen argues, Ruth is a variation of the 
matriarchal narratives, then the writer's aim would be to connect David via Ruth and 
Boaz to the early history of Israel, thereby defending David's claim to the throne and 
suggesting that David is a new patriarch, or even the ultimate patriarch, chosen by God. 
Thus, the genealogy becomes a conclusion to the period of the story of Ruth and marks 
a beginning to the saga of the monarchs. 

This discussion of the genealogy in relation to the story oi Ruth is fascinating. 
Nielsen examines the ideological manipulations of these family histories within a 
historical and literary framework, suggesting that the election of Ruth as David's 
ancestress may point to the division of the kingdom as a possible date of writing. Again, 
Nielsen points to possibilities and doesn't make assertions. 

Nielsen admits the canonical problem with Ruth. The LXX places Ruth between 
Judges and Samuel; the BHS has Ruth among the writings and associated with specific 
religious festivals. How this influences reading is of course an issue, particularly for 
reader-response critics, canonical criticism and within socio-cultural studies, but 
Nielsen's interest is intertextual criticism here. 

Despite being short, this commentary is richly packed, offering an invitation to 
the student to explore the text from a variety of perspectives. The value of Nielsen's 
approach is that she invites dialogue, points to possible intertextualities, and challenges 
the student to re-read the text from her perspective of intertextual relations. She 
encourages the student to explore the meanings available in the text, to make conscious 
connections between texts and to discover the continuity that exists in biblical writing. 
It is, therefore, a commentary which fulfills Nielsen's personal aims yet provides only 
a small detail of Ruth. Dorothy Penny-Larter 

Paul R. House, /, 2 Kings, The New American Commentary, Nashville: Broadman 
& Hoiman, 1995, 432 pp. 

Jerome T. Walsh, 7 Kings, Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry, 
Collegevilie, Minn: Michael Glazier, 1996, xxi -i- 393 pp. 

Since the books of Kings constitute primary source material for reconstructing the 
history of Israel, the study of these books has been devoted mainly to addressing the 
difficult historical problems they raise. Commentaries on 1-2 Kings generally follow 
this focus and concentrate on reconciling the books' internal chronologies, setting 
biblical events within the framework of ancient Near Eastern history, delineating sources 
and forms, assessing the historicity of the contents (especially the so-called prophetic 
narratives), and accounting for the composition of the books. The two commentaries 
reviewed here take different stances and focus on the canonical form of the texts and the 
message rendered by the author/narrator. They therefore represent a welcome addition 



17 



Book Reviews 

to the commentary literature on these often-overlooked books. 

The New American Commentary series offers commentary based on the NIV 
translation of the Bible and addresses a wide readership: scholars, pastors, and 
laypeople. Its aim is to provide concise, readable commentary from an "unapologetically 
confessional" perspective that holds to the inerrancy of scripture and values the 
theological integrity of the biblical text. 

Paul House's commentary on 1-2 Kings follows this agenda closely and is marked 
by solid exposition of the biblical text and a user-friendly format. The commentary 
begins with a preface that summarizes the components of his integrated approach 
(historical details, literary details, canonical details, theological details, and applicational 
details) and explains their interrelationships. A lengthy introduction then elaborates 
each of these components. The discussion of historical details begins with a cogent and 
comprehensive summary of views on the authorship and composition of the book. 
(House holds the view that the books were composed by a single author, influenced by 
Deuteronomy, as parts of a larger work.) The next section deals with the troublesome 
issue of chronology and offers a less substantial overview of scholarship; House gives 
a brief overview of the problem before endorsing the conclusions of Thiele and does not 
offer an analysis beyond an assertion that the difficulties can be explained. Subsequent 
sections offer an overview of the political situation, as well as excellent arguments for 
the primacy of the Masoretic text over the Septuagint and the historicity of the so-called 
prophetic "legends." 

The second main section offers an introduction to literary issues (by which House 
seems to mean attention to the poetics of the text) which follows the lines of 
conventional formalism (structure, plot, character, point of view). A brief discussion of 
canonical criticism and the canonical placement and function of 1 -2 Kings follows, and 
this in turn gives way to an identification of key theological issues: monotheism vs. 
idolatry, central worship vs. the high places, covenant loyalty vs. spiritual rebellion, true 
prophecy vs. "lying spirits," God's covenant with David vs. dynastic disintegration, and 
God's sovereignty vs. human pride. The introduction concludes with principles which 
guide the pastor and teacher in the task of applying the texts. 

Commentary on the text itself follows an accessible format. Each main section 
begins with an outline, followed by a summary of historical context and specific issues 
raised by the text. The commentary then works through the section passage by passage, 
beginning first with a quotation of the biblical text (in boldface) and proceeding to an 
exposifion of the passage. At the conclusion of each section House offers theological 
and canonical reflections on key aspects of the text and concludes with their 
"applicational implications." The preacher and teacher will especially appreciate these 
latter sections, which provide solid and balanced reflection for preaching, teaching, and 
personal study. 

Given the scope and format of the project, there are inevitable trade-offs. Whether 
for the sake of brevity or of remaining within confessional parameters, some particularly 
thorny issues receive only a cursory treatment. On the difficult issues of chronology. 
House is often content to rest on previous scholarship without engaging opposing 
perspectives. The chronology of Hezekiah's reign is a case in point. The regnal dates 
for Hezekiah seem to conflict with those of his Northern contemporaries and with 
Assyrian annals. Furthermore, the account of his reign seems to contain two accounts 

118 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

of an invasion by Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:13-18; 18:14-19:37), one resulting in the 
payment of tribute and the other in the destruction of the Assyrian army. This leads to 
the question of whether the Bible recounts one long campaign, conflates two versions 
of one campaign, or recounts two separate campaigns. House acknowledges that 
scholars debate the sequence of events and then briefly states his own position (one long 
campaign), with a footnote to two supporting sources. Since the commentary affirms the 
inerrancy of scripture and the vital importance of discerning historical details, it is 
somewhat disappointing that it does not engage this debate and others (e.g. the identities 
of Ben-Hadad and the ''anonymous" king of the Elisha narratives) more substantively. 

These minor misgivings are more of a concern to scholars than they will be to the 
pastors and laypeople toward whom this book is oriented. These readers will find the 
commentary to be an excellent and usable resource for the study of 1-2 Kings. The 
exposition of texts is lucid, straightforward, and well-informed, allowing the reader to 
benefit by a theologically-sensitive explanation of the text, unencumbered by digressions 
or discussions of academic fine points. The summaries of history and theology present 
the essential points necessary for understanding the exposition, and discussions of 
application draw connections to the concerns of the contemporary church. The 
commentary will therefore make a fine addition to church libraries and to the personal 
libraries of those who preach and teach. 

Jerome Walsh's commentary on 1 Kings takes a completely different tack. 
Employing narrative criticism in the service of a close reading of the text, Walsh focuses 
specifically on the literary dimensions of the book; that is, how the biblical narrator 
shapes the story of Israel's kings and prophets. The volume is the first in a new series 
which focuses on the literary character of the biblical texts in their final form. 
Contributors represent a variety of backgrounds and approaches, but all are united by 
the desire to explore the literary artistry of scripture. 

Walsh's reading reveals a narrative of extraordinary sophistication and power. 
The commentary is divided into four main parts which elaborate the stories of Solomon 
(1 Kings 1-11), Jeroboam (1 Kings 1 1:26-14:20), Elijah (1 Kings 17-19), and Ahab (1 
Kings 20:1-22:40). Each part contains a series of chapters which work through the 
narrative blocks in sequence before concluding with a chapter that provides an overview 
of the whole story. The chapters typically break down these blocks into smaller sections 
and comprise an exposition of the text followed by discussions of such elements as 
characterization and narrative effect. The format is rather fluid, and while this causes 
some confusion at points, it ultimately works to the reader's benefit by allowing the 
exposition to follow the flow of the narrative itself 

Walsh not only gives the reader a deeper sense of the stories themselves but also 
of the way that the narrator shapes the presentation of the events. He helps the reader 
appreciate the narrator's artistry through the identification and explanation of various 
structural symmetries (e.g. chiasm, parallelism, inclusion) and discussions of the how 
the biblical narrator presents the characters of the story. Throughout the commentary, 
he uncovers the subtle craft of the biblical storyteller through meticulous attention to 
the language of the text (as when, in the story of the two prostitutes before Solomon, the 
true mother calls her child ayalud, a presumably more intimate term than the more 
commonyeled). Each chapter of exposition is filled with discoveries and insights, while 
the summary chapters offer suggest larger connections. (Especially provocative are the 

119 



Book Reviews 

allusions between Elijah and Moses which link the two great figures but intimate that 
Elijah does fails to meet the standards Moses set.) Best of all, he writes in an engaging 
style that is provocative enough to satisfy the scholar but simple enough to engage the 
reader with little knowledge of Hebrew. 

This is a new kind of commentary, one that shapes its exposition to the genre 
itself. While other commentaries atomize and compartmentalize the narrative, Walsh 
is content to let the story tell itself, serving as the reader's guide into the strange and 
marvelous world that it presents. Moving away from dry exposition, he displays the 
storyteller's flair and thus draws the reader into the intricate interplay of events and 
characters. In so doing, he releases the narrative's power to work on its reader. And 
that, ultimately, is what a commentary on 1 Kings should do. L. Daniel Hawk 

Nancy L, deClaisse-Walford, Reading from the Beginning: The Shaping of the 
Hebrew Psalter Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1997. 122 pages. 

In Reading from the Beginning: The Shaping of the Hebrew Psalter, Nancy 
deClaisse-Walford examines the Psalter from the standpoint of the entire book being a 
literary unity. She first explains her understanding and use of the canonical method, 
demonstrating that her basis is James Sanders's method of "canonical criticism." In 
chapters two, three, and four, she presents a history of the canon, a history of the shaping 
community (the believers who formed the canon through their recognition and use of 
Scriptures), and a brief history of the process by which the Psalter attained its final 
shape. In the following six chapters, she analyzes the five "books" of the Psalter with an 
excursus on the importance of kingship in the ancient Near East. Chapters eleven and 
twelve conclude her study in which she proposes that the canon was the means by which 
the canonical (believing) community survived as an identifiable entit>' in a world in 
which multiple ethnic groups and cultures were absorbed into Greek and Roman culture. 

DeClaisse-Walford presents a strong case for her argument that Yahweh's Torah 
and the Kingship of Yahweh are the overarching themes of the Book of Psalms. They 
are interwoven throughout the Psalter and serve to tie the various collections and the five 
"books" together. The five books tell the tale of Israel for the Jews of the postexilic 
period. Books I and II present the golden age of Israel under David and Solomon, while 
the themes of Book III are the destruction of the northern and southern kingdoms and 
the Exile. 

Psalm 90, the initial psalm of Book IV, plays a pivotal role in her analysis. The 
only psalm attributed to Moses "performs the literary role of sending the reader/hearer 
back to the beginning of the Psalter, back to Psalms 1 and 2 and the ideas of YHWH's 
Torah and YHWH's kingship"(86). After the presentation of the collapse of the Davidic 
monarchy, Psalm 90 points the readers back to their beginning as a nation and the 
chosen people of God. From this focal point to the end of Book V (Ps. 145) and the 
conclusion of the Psalter (Psalms 146-150: the final five praise hymns), the 
readers/hearers repeatedly are reminded and encouraged to act on the assurance that 
Yahweh is still king, despite their present position of being a people without a country 
and without an earthly king. 

With her proposal of the pivotal nature of Psalm 90 for the canonical community, 
looking backward to Torah and forward to the kingship of Yahweh, DeClaisse-Walford 

120 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

reflects the perspective of an earlier work of Waiter Brueggemann ("Response to James 
L. Mays, "The Question of Context," in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. C. 
McCann, JSOTSup 159, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993). Brueggemann 
suggests that Psalm 73, following 72, is the pivot point of the Psalter. "We are permitted 
to see the Psalms as a dramatic struggle from obedience (Psalm 1 ) through dismay 
(Psalm 73 after 72) to praise (Psalm 150)'" (41). 

DeClaisse-Walford's concurs with Gerald Wilson (The Editing of the Hebrew 
Psalter, SBLDS 76, Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985) in his finding significant clues 
to the shape of the Psalter in the five psalms which close each book. In her examination 
of the macrostructure of the Psalter, she analyzes the first and last psalms of each book, 
demonstrating how they convey the themes of the entire book. She suggests that "other 
clues to the shaping of the Psalter also exist — clues that can be discovered by 
understanding the historical backgrounds and hermeneutical underpinnings of the 
postexilic community" (34). Her primary contributions to the discussion of the shape 
and shaping of the Psalter are her presentation of the dual themes of the 
Book — Yahweh's Torah and Yahweh's kingship — and her conclusion that the canon 
was the means through which Yahweh's covenant people survived (and continue to 
survive) as a unique believing community. When believers are overwhelmed by the 
difficulties of life, whether exile caused by the Babylonians or the trials and tribulations 
of twentieth century western culture, reading from the beginning of the Psalter and 
continuing on until they reach the end leads them to the inevitable conclusion that 
Yahweh was and still is King. 

Francis Kimmit, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 

Jan L. Koole, Isaiah, Part 3, Volume 2: Isaiah 49-55, Historical Commentary on the 
Old Testament, Leuven: Peeters, 1998, xxv + 454 pp. 

The series to which this commentary belongs is beginning to establish itself as a 
major resource both for scholarly understanding of the text of the Old Testament and for 
responsible exegesis to undergird exposition and preaching. Although ultimately the 
team of contributors will be internationally representative, the early volumes to have 
appeared are by our Dutch colleagues (the present one being the translation of a 
contribution to the 'Commentaar op het Oude Testament' series). This is especially 
welcome, as otherwise their valuable work is all too often available to only a handful of 
specialists. 

In conscious distinction from many newer forms of interpretation, the series is 
firmly historical in orientation, and this is based squarely on a theological understanding 
of the Bible as God's word originally imparted at specific times and places. Traditional 
forms of critical scholarship are thus required in order to hear it aright in the modem 
world. The series is intended to serve the church and the scholarly communities by 
paying attention both to the historical specificity of the text and to the history of its 
interpretation through the ages. 

To meet this challenging agenda, each paragraph of the text is studied under 
several headings. In the present volume, a new translation is followed first by an 
introductory discussion of 'essentials and perspectives'. Here, a simplified running 
exegesis incorporates copious references to the New Testament, and occasionally to later 

121 



Book Reviews 

Christian and Jewish interpreters as well. It is this section which will be of most help 
to pastors and preachers. 

Two sections of scholarly exposition' follow, and they are understandably longer 
and more technical. The first is of an introductory nature, treating such issues as the 
connection of the paragraph to its wider context, form criticism, and the literary structure 
of the passage. Finally, and fullest of all, there follows a verse-by-verse 'exegesis', 
which treats the Hebrew text in great detail, with a battery of references to secondary 
literature and seemingly no stone left unturned. 

Being the second of Koole's projected three volumes on Isaiah 40-66, the present 
work has no introduction (that having been included in the volume on chapters 40-48, 
which appeared in 1997), but starts straight in at 49:1-6. 

On the whole, Koole's commentary may be characterized as decidedly traditional, 
but not in any obscurantist sense. He accepts that with chapter 40 a new voice from the 
Babylonian exile is heard in Isaiah, but he is conscious too of the links between the 
various parts of the book as a whole. Beyond that, however, he argues in dialogue with 
the whole range of modem opinion in favor of the unity of 40-55. Thus, for instance, 
no major break is allowed, as some have maintained, between chapters 48 and 49, and 
similarly he rejects theories of redactional layering in the text, which have become 
widespread in recent years; even the unity of 50:10-1 1 with the remainder of chapter 50 
is stoutly defended. 

In terms of text and philology, too, Koole is highly conservative. Many proposals 
in both spheres have, of course, been advanced over the years, and not the least value 
of this commentary will be that Koole has collected and evaluated these with great 
diligence. His conclusions begin to become predictable, however, as time and again he 
defends the superiority of the Masoretic text. Caution is certainly welcome in this 
sphere, where sometimes in the past conjecture has been allowed to become rampant. 
Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that we know from manuscript evidence that errors 
did sometimes occur in the course of textual transmission, and there are places where 
emendation, especially if it is supported by the ancient versions or the manuscripts of 
Isaiah from Qumran, may well be preferable to the defense of a reading where meaning 
can scarcely be extracted without special pleading. Similarly, there are occasions where 
the meaning of a Hebrew word may have been lost over the course of time and where 
comparison with related Semitic languages may be illuminating. Naturally, there are 
proper methods to be followed in this, and it is unfortunate that failure to attend to these 
in the past has given the exercise a bad name, but that should not prevent so cautious a 
scholar as Koole from appealing to it when it clarifies an obscurity. There are examples 
of both these approaches to the text where in my opinion Koole seems unnecessarily to 
sidestep any such departure from tradition. 

Finally, the results of the exposition are also traditional. Not least, it may be 
noted that, very much against the tide of current scholarship, he defends an interpretation 
of the servant figure in (so far as this volume goes) 49:1-6, 50:4-9 and 52:13-53-53:12 
as a future savior figure. This allows him. of course, also to ascribe these passages to 
the same author as the rest of the material. 

Koole's commentary is not one, therefore, which breaks significant new ground, 
and in some respects this is no bad thing. It is likely to be valued most in the long run 
for the thoroughness with which it collects, categorizes and describes so much previous 

122 



scholarship. Even if his own conclusions are not always convincing, his work will serve 
as a major resource for anyone wanting to deal in detail with these significant chapters 
of Isaiah. H.G.M. Williamson, Oxford University 

Gerald L, Keown, Pamela J. Scalise, and Thomas G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52. 

Word Biblical Commentary 27. Dallas: Word, 1995 

Philip J. King, Jeremiah: An Archaeological Companion. Louisville, KY: 

Westminster/John Knox, 1993. 

J. G. McConville, Judgment and Promise: An Interpretation of the Book of 

Jeremiah. Leicester, EnglandAVinona Lake, IN: Apollos/Eisenbrauns, 1993. 

William McKane, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Jeremiah, volume 2, 

International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1996 

Beginning in the early 1980s, we witnessed a remarkable amount of scholarly 
interest in the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, which has shown no sign of abatement 
in recent years. The editor of this journal kindly asked me to review these four volumes 
as a sequel to my critique of developments on the study of Jeremiah since 1980 (see my 
"Recent Trends in The Study of Jeremiah," Ashland Theological Journal 25[ 1 993], 75- 
95). There I summarized the new works in light of their contributions to five of the most 
important exegetical issues in Jeremiah: authorship and composition, historical 
background, the book's relationship to Deuteronomy, textual problems in Jeremiah, and 
theological contributions. This brief review provides an opportunity to supplement that 
presentation. 

Two of the volumes under review here are companions to works reviewed in the 
1993 article: McKane's International Critical Commentary volume 2 as well as the 
Word Biblical Commentary series second volume, which completes the work of Craigie, 
Kelley, and Drinkard ( WBC 26, 1 991 ). McKane's second volume gives him a venue for 
elaborating on his "rolling corpus'" approach to Jeremiah, which puts him at variance 
with the regnant Duhm-Mowinckel source theory. The evidence from the second half 
of Jeremiah leads McKane to conclusions similar to the ones detailed in his volume 1. 
The corpus of texts in Jeremiah is "the product of a long growth extending into the post- 
exilic period" (p. clxxii). The prose of chapters 26-29 and 34-45 is, in McKane's view, 
a combination of a Baruch core and Deuteronomistic redaction. He believes that ancient 
principles determining the shape of prophetic books dictated the inclusion of promises 
of restoration and threats against foreign nations as essential constituents of such books 
(as in Isaiah 13-23 and Ezekiel 25-32 and elsewhere). Thus Jeremiah 30-33 (the Book 
of the Covenant) and 46-5 1 (oracles against the nations) were necessary to round out the 
"book" of Jeremiah. Such an approach complicates the view that these texts have close 
associations with Jeremiah himself and McKane traces only isolated sayings to the sixth 
century BC. Like the rest of the book, these prophecies contributed to a literary and 
theological portrait of Jeremiah, which were intended to serve a wider religious function 
within the exilic and postexilic Jewish community. McKane concludes that the shorter 
text of the Septuagint is a witness to a more original Hebrew text than that of the 
Masoretic Tradition. As in the first volume, McKane intentionally eschews theological 
interpretation. 

After the untimely death of Peter Craigie in 1 988, the editors of the Word Biblical 
Commentar> series decided to use multiple authors to complete his work on Jeremiah. 
Craigie's work in the first volume comprised the introduction and commentary on the 

123 



Book Reviews 

first seven chapters of Jeremiah. The second volume contains no new introduction 
materials, but completes the commentary proper (Scalise contributed the commentary 
for chapters 26-34, Keown for chapters 35-45 and 52, and Smothers for chapters 46-5 1 ). 
The authors are to be commended for providing a useful volume, fittingly dedicated to 
the memory of Professor Craigie, whose death at age 50 is still a distinct loss in the 
evangelical scholarly community. The inevitable degree of disjointedness in such a 
composite work is kept to a minimum and is not distracting from an otherwise useful 
commentary. 

The impressive book by McConville addresses in particular one of the five 
exegetical issues related to interpreting Jeremiah, namely, its relationship to 
Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History. Scholars are divided between those who 
see the book as essentially a Deuteronomistic product (the majority opinion among 
scholars), and those who see the book as coming largely from the prophet himself 
McConville contends that "the characterization of Jeremiah as Deuteronomistic obscures 
its individuality and vitality, and retards rather than furthers the task of its elucidation" 
(p. 1 1 ). His compelling argument relies on the identification of a governing concept in 
the book, which organizes the diverse materials. The concept has the theology of new 
covenant at its center, and marks the book as distinct from the driving issues of the 
Deuteronomistic History. He believes further that the book was produced during the 
lifetime of the prophet himself through repeated communications with the exiles, 
perhaps in the context of the prophet's latter years. McConville combines a helpful 
summary of the scholarship on Jeremiah with a genuinely fresh approach, which all 
future interpreters of the book will need to address. 

The volume by Philip King is a genuinely unique contribution. Rather than a 
commentary proper, the volume presents archaeological artifacts and texts of the late 
seventh and early sixth centuries BC in order to elucidate the text of the book of 
Jeremiah. Fortunately for those of us interested in Jeremiah, this period is one of the 
best attested periods in Israel's history. King's volume presents artifactual and 
inscriptional evidence touching on nearly every aspect of the daily life of Judah in 
Jeremiah's time. After brief chapters on the book of Jeremiah itself its historical and 
geographical setting, the author systematically presents archaeological evidence on a 
variety of issues, including literacy, worship, funerary customs, agriculture and crafts. 
Richly illustrated, this volume is a welcome supplement to the many commentaries now 
available on Jeremiah, and will be especially useful to non-specialists in archaeology. 

In sum, the intense scholarly interest devoted to the Book of Jeremiah has 
continued and these new volumes make their own unique contributions to the work. 

Bill T. Arnold 

Brian B. Schmidt, Israel's Beneficent Dead: Ancestor Cult and Necromancy in 
Ancient Israelite Religion and Tradition. Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 400 pp., 1994. 

The past decade or so has witnessed a remarkable recrudescence of interest in 
ancestor worship and the possibility of cults of the dead in the ancient Near East in 
general, and in early Israel in particular. The biblical evidence is scant and open to a 
variety of interpretations, which makes it difficult to place in its ancient Eastern context. 



124 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

Whereas previous scholarship tended to deny the presence of ancestral worship in 
ancient Israel, it is now generally agreed that normative Yahwism battled against the 
practice of necromancy and other death rituals, such as self-laceration and offerings to 
deceased ancestors (see for example, Theodore J. Lewis, Cults of the Dead in Ancient 
Israel and Ugarit [HSM 39; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1 989], and his distinction between 
the "Yahwism which became normative" and "popular religion," pages 1-2). As with 
such practices in the comparative cultures, it is generally assumed that Israelite cults of 
the dead sought to appease the dead or secure favors from them. 

In this new research, something of a consensus has emerged. Ancestor worship 
in Egypt and Mesopotamia is generally well attested and was thought to be an effective 
way to gain the favor of the dead, who it was believed could either bestow blessings or 
act malevolently on behalf of the living. Based largely on re-evaluation of several 
important texts from Ugarit (which now appears to have had a vibrant cult of ancestor 
worship comparable to that in Mesopotamia and Egypt), the prevailing opinion is that 
on this topic, Israel shared a cultural continuity with her neighbors. It is now widely 
believed that early Israelite Yahwism borrowed many Canaanite motifs while rejecting 
others. Though early Yahwism is difficult to distinguish from Canaanite religion, a 
normative Yahwism gradually emerged, which is reflected in the prophetic and 
Deuteronomistic literature. This normative expression of Israelite religion consistently 
condemned ancestor worship and death rituals. Vestiges of ancestor worship and 
necromancy persisted in the textual witness (for example, 1 Samuel 28), which probably 
reflects on the veracity of these textual traditions because the editors would have sought 
to expunge such reflexes from the written record. The new scholarly consensus assumes 
an ongoing battle throughout Israel's history between normative Yahwism and 
practitioners of death rituals in the popular religion. 

In the impressive monograph under review here, Brian Schmidt demurs. 
Schmidt believes interest in the dead developed first in the ancient Near East (especially 
the Neo-Assyrian empire), and entered Israel only in the late eighth and seventh 
centuries because of Assyrian influence. 

This is a most impressive piece of scholarship, which analyzes biblical and 
extra-biblical texts from Ebla, Mari, Ugarit. Emar and others. Schmidt is adept at 
handling all of the languages required to do such research, and has produced an 
important volume, both for its innovative interpretation of the evidence, and for his 
extensive documentation and bibliography. With regard to Schmidt's particular 

arguments, 1 am drawn to much of his analysis of the earlier materials. He has 
demonstrated the precariousness of arguing for ancestral divination in ancient Israel 
based on the "gods of the fathers" references, and comparisons with Ebla and Ugaritic 
king lists. However, his treatment of the important text concerning Saul's necromancy 
at Endor (1 Samuel 28) leaves us less satisfied. He argues for its late or post- 
deuteronomistic origins as a means for discounting the practices described there in early 
Israel. 1 find such an assumption difficult to square with the way in which the traditions 
of the Deuteronomistic History were preserved and compiled. 

In sum. this is a helpful and scholarly corrective to those who assume too 
much presence for ancestral worship and cults of the dead in early Israel. However, 
definitive answers to some of our questions will have to await future research on these 
extremely difficult texts. Bill T. Arnold 

125 



Book Reviews 

Morna D. Hooker, Beginnings: Keys that Open the Gospels. Harrisburg, 
Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1997. 94 pp., paper, $12.00. 

Professor Hooker of Cambridge University presented the John Albert Hall lectures 
in Victoria, British Columbia. These lectures are the text of this book dedicated to 
analyzing each of the four "beginning" gospels of the New Testament. One might find 
this format to be a stimulating teaching series as we "begin" the new millennium. There 
is so much foreboding at the threshold of the new millennium and this could be a way 
of presenting the "good news" of the gospel in an interesting manner. 

Each of the gospel introductions is described by the author as a "key" to 
unlocking its meaning. Luke's key does not do well unlocking the truth of John's gospel 
and vice-versa. Luke, for example, seems to be undecided about where and how he 
wants to begin. ..so he writes several introductions which bring us into the truth of his 
gospel. And, yet, each of these introductions by Luke have a link with one another that 
is important to explore. The link we discover is the key to the introduction of Luke's 
Acts of the Apostles. 

One has the impression that this series of lectures is only a preliminary 
introduction to the reader's own study of the gospels. In this sense the book is quite 
attractive as it beckons one to read more and to think about what the "beginnings" say 
about the "endings." 

"What we call the beginning is often the end 
And to make an end is to make a beginning" 
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, Little Gidding V 

Cliff Stewart, Abilene, Texas 

T. Dwyer, TheMotif of Wonder intheGospelof Mark, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic 
Press, 1996, 243 pp., $58.50. 

With this work, Dwyer presents a revised Aberdeen University Ph.D. dissertation 
on the meaning and significance of "wonder" and "amazement" in Mark. 

Dwyer's thesis is that wonder and amazement in Mark signify a necessary and 
engaged response to divine intervention in creation, a response to God's all- 
encompassing Kingdom rule and salvation through Jesus (198). Wonder may reflect a 
positive response to - or rejection of- God's deeds in Jesus. 

Following some reflections on methodology (Chapter 1), Dwyer sets out to 
explore the Greco-Roman (Chapter 2), Early Jewish (Chapter 3), and Early Christian 
(Chapter 4) concept of "wonder." The results are then compared (Chapter 7) with his 
comprehensive but not too detailed analysis of "wonder" in Mark (Chapters 5 and 6). 
His use of primary and secondary literature in these chapters is informed, and includes 
a substantial number of French and German works. 

One or two comments on methodology are necessary before we evaluate the 
content of Dwyer's thesis. 

Dwyer assumes literary dependency among the synoptic Gospels as well as 
Markan priority. He follows the redaction-critical approach and attempts to relate this 
methodology to narrative criticism. Dwyer still believes in the possibility of being able 
to separate tradition and redaction, the latter being primarily identified by Peabody's 

126 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

'recurring phraseology' criterion. Identifying a motif in the narrative also follows a 
'frequency' criterion (i.e. intentional) as well as the 'avoid ability' of the motif (i.e. the 
appearance of the motif in unlikely contexts; Freedman). Compared with classical 
redaction-critical works it becomes readily apparent, however, that Dwyer does not want 
to go through the meticulous rigors of demonstrating at each point whether he is dealing 
with redaction or tradition. Thus his redaction-critical comments often sound merely 
apodictic. Using both redaction criticism and narrative analysis, Dwyer hopes to pay 
attention to detail (redaction criticism) and the whole (narrative analysis). This sounds 
impressive. Only: the fact that Dwyer naively believes that a mere 'recurring 
phraseology' can be purely redactional and thus represents a creative addition to the 
material by the writer already sets him against the possibility that Mark may simply 
focus on the reliable report of a historical phenomenon of wonder among those who 
responded and reacted to Jesus. If that were so, then Mark's 'redaction' would have to 
give way to Mark favoring a particular historical motif (compare the historical motif of 
Jesus' care for the outcast in Luke), and nothing else! In that case, the word 'redaction' 
would be utterly misplaced (especially if one really understands the anthropocentric, 
Cartesian underpinnings of the thoroughly skeptical and ahistorical principles of 
'redaction criticism' in the milieu of Troeltsch's historical criticism, Bultmann's form 
criticism and Marxsen's redaction criticism). The word 'compositional emphasis' would 
then be more appropriate. Is Dwyer aware of the fact that he walks hermeneutically over 
hot coals as he desires to present a tidy methodological modus operandi? 

According to Dwyer, the motif of wonder is uncommon in miracle stories in 
Greco-Roman, early Jewish and early Christian literature (including divine-man 
literature [196]); infrequent in biographical literature and stories of esteemed teachers. 
Rather, in Greco-Roman literature, wonder flinctions in connection with "signs, portents, 
dreams or divine interventions in general"( 196, italics HFB). They are not associated 
with miracle workers as such. Similarly, Jewish end-time expectation is that God would 
"'amaze' Israel" (cf Hos 3:5; 196). At times "wonder" is associated with Messianic 
hopes. 

Early Christian literature often indicates that wonder is "a necessary experience," 
(italics by the author; 197) conveying either a positive response or a form of rejection 
and may be part of taking notice of that which may lie beyond the natural, visible world 
(cf Mk 5:33). 

The synoptic comparison yields the observation that Mark uses the motif of 
'wonder' "with an intensity, frequency and mystery that surpasses the other synoptics. 
The Markan use of wonder is continually softened by Matthew and Luke." ( 1 96). Dwyer 
shows that "wonder" is not so much an expression of disbelief and "defective response" 
as it is in various ways an engagement with the surprise caused by what Jesus does and 
says (contra Stacy, who identifies 'wonder' and 'fear' as defective responses to Jesus, 
Kelber, Wrede, and Kingsbury). 'Wonder' as a reaction comes from many different 
groups identified in Mark: "Reactions of wonder come from friend, enemy, Jew, Gentile, 
people, leaders, those 'on the way' and those opposed, as co-existent with faith and 
understanding, and as co-existent with murderous opposition. Wonder in Mark appears 
to be a multivalent motif which resists paradigms and simplified categories. If anything, 
the reaction is necessary and essential as God breaks in to rule and save with power." 
(198) 

127 



Book Reviews 

Dwyer ably shows that the motif of wonder (over God's surprising and awe- 
inspiring acts in Christ) continues through the passion narrative and thus indicates that 
God is still intervening in history by means of the suffering Messiah. The christological 
import of Dwyer's study focuses on the fact that "wonder" highlights Jesus as "the spirit- 
anointed agent of the kingdom" (199). With his rule, God breaks into the visible world 
by means of Jesus and thus triggers "wonder." 

Despite his tentative methodology, Dwyer draws attention to a motif which 
definitely plays an important part in Mark's narrative. Dwyer's thematic contribution to 
'wonder in Mark' is convincing and theologically helpful. 

Corrigenda: 

1. Franz Mussner, not Miissner! (e.g., p. 19 fn 24; p. 216; 241) 

2. p. 214: Linnemann: "Der wiedergefundene Markusschluss" 

3. p. 28, fii.6: Barry Blackburn's Ph.D. thesis was published as Theios Aner and the 
Markan Miracle Tradition. Tubingen:Mohr-Siebeck, 1991 

4. p. 28, line 3 from bottom: ( 1 986) 

5. p. 213, line 4 from bottom: 10.1717-31' 

6. p. 141 n. 203 Verkldrungserzdhlung 

7. p. 200, fn. 1 : ...fur den neutestamentlichen Begriff... 

8. p. 202 "Mark's story is indeed a story" 

Hans F. Bayer, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis 

Rebecca I. Denova, The Things Accomplished Among Us. Prophetic Tradition in the 
Structural Pattern of Luke-Acts JSJ^TSup 141, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 
1997. 

In this work, Rebecca Denova argues that, the view that Luke used the Scriptures 
of Israel strictly as an apologetic device flounders over the problem of Luke's continued 
use of the prophetic tradition for a story that would have had no relevance to his Gentile 
church community. Denova views her work as innovative in part because it focuses on 
the structure of Luke-Acts in relation to prophetic fulfillment and not simply the content 
of Luke-Acts. She argues that "what has been significantly overlooked in studies of 
Luke's 'fulfillment of prophecy' is that all the events which involve Jesus and the 
community are eschatological events, manifesting the literal fulfillment of prophetic 
oracles concerning 'the last days'." That is, all the events prophesied for "the last day" 
have been accomplished among us.' The prophets are not fulfilled in the light of the 
"church" or "Christianity" but in the light of what was promised to Israel in the 
Scriptures (p. 20). Previous treatments of the "fulfillment of prophecy" do not account 
for the place of Acts 16-28 in Luke's use of the Scriptures of Israel, and Denova 
considers this lacuna unsatisfactory. For Luke, much of the "fulfillment of prophecy" can 
only take place in the story of the disciples in Acts. In fact, the validity of Jesus' claim 
to messiahship is inadequate without the events narrated in Acts. Luke used scriptural 
typology throughout Luke-Acts, rewriting the story of Jesus and the early Church in light 
of the story of Israel. Luke's use of the Scriptures should not be limited to explicit 
citations, which would leave most of the last half of Acts without any scriptural 



128 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

component. In fact, it is a "fundamental misconception" according to Denova, to imagine 
that scriptural content and structure has fallen away in the second half of Acts (p. 24). 

Denova approaches Luke-Acts through narrative criticism. It is necessary to ask 
about the structure and content of the text before asking questions about genre or 
history. She argues that it is necessary to find the relationship between the prophetic 
tradition which Luke claims is fulfilled, and the unified narrative of Luke-Acts. 
Establishing this unified narrative requires identifying the structural pattern of the 
entirety of Luke- Acts. Denova contends that the view that Luke-Acts reflects a shift from 
the first Jewish d isciples to a Gentile church which the Jews oppose is without warrant 
in Luke-Acts. She argues that the combination of a "prophetic structural pattern and 
biblical typology" illustrates the author's point of view, which is the same in both the 
Gospel and Acts (p. 25). 

The bulk of the book traces this prophetic tradition and its relation to the sequence 
of events in Luke-Acts through a narrative-critical reading. This differs from other 
treatments of the "fulfillment" motif in Luke-Acts which generally focus on direct 
citations with citation formulas. Luke's grand design for the structural pattern of his two- 
volume work was to continue the story of Israel into the life of Jesus and his followers" 
(p. 26). Denova argues that the structural pattern Luke used for Luke-Acts came from the 
text of Isaiah. The author of Luke- Acts employed three main literary devices to show the 
relationship between events in the story: scriptural citation, biblical typology, and 
narrative parallelism. Denova develops this relationship most fully in chapter 3. Denova 
argues that for Luke, every event fulfills the Scriptures of Israel in some way, with or 
without a citation. Denova argues that a type may be present if there is a coincidence 
between events in Luke's narrative and parallel passages in the Scriptures of Israel. One 
isolated instance does not show typology. Also, the context in Luke-Acts should have 
an association with the context of the parallel passage. The proposed typology in Luke- 
Acts also must demonstrate a relationship between the message of Luke-Acts and the 
parallel passage. The rejection scenes in Luke-Acts are clearly typological. Denova 
concludes that allusions to the Scriptures of Israel link the community to Israel in both 
Luke and Acts. Luke's theological understanding of the Scriptures of Israel and how he 
reads them is consistent from Luke's Gospel to Acts. Denova seeks to show that Luke- 
Acts reflects the work of a Jewish author presenting arguments to other Jews that the 
prophets have been "fulfilled," rather than reflecting a second century "Gentile 
Christianity." 

Denova argues that Luke 4: 1 6-30 serves an important role overlooked by scholars. 
Most scholars view it as programmatic for the initial rejection of Jesus and later the 
rejection of the Jews. Robert Brawley suggests that it legitimates Jesus. Denova argues 
that this passage is a "programmatic model for the legitimation of all God's agents in 
Luke-Acts," which she develops in chapters 4 (Luke) and 5 (Acts). This passage is not 
merely about rejection but describes how the entire story in Luke-Acts unfolds. This 
passage shows that the inclusion of the Gentiles does not involve the exclusion of the 
Jews, as this would be "inconsistent with prophetic tradition" (p. 153). This positive 
evaluation of Luke-Acts vis-a-vis the Jews is convincing and commendable. Denova 
continues tracing elements in Luke 4:16-30 in Paul's activities in Acts, focusing on the 
eschatological themes of the inclusion of the Gentiles, the rejection of the unrepentant 
(both Jewish and Gentile non-believers) and the restoration of Zion. Denova concludes 

129 



Book Reviews 

that Luke created the portrait of Paul in Acts through the use of prophetic types, 
especially Jonah, the rejected prophet. 

Some readers will be disappointed with Denova's evaluation of Luke as an 
historian. She argues that all the historical details in Luke-Acts exist only to show the 
relation between prophetic oracles and events in the lives of Jesus and his early 
followers. Luke is not trying at all to present a coherent chronological account. 
Historical data serve a narrative function and Luke has no interest in them as historical 
information. This dichotomy Denova has created is unnecessary. In chapter 2, she 
describes the genre of Luke-Acts as "typological history." Her view is similar to 
Goulder's and open to the same objections. 

Nevertheless, those interested in the use of the Scriptures of Israel in Luke-Acts, 
the "fulfillment of prophecy" motif identified by many in Luke-Acts, and critical 
questions of genre, dating, author and audience will want to read this book. Readers will 
be aided by Denova's fresh approach to old problems through a narrative-critical 
approach and her treatment of subjects without assuming the consensus on many issues. 
Her study departs from previous treatments of the "fulfillment of prophecy" motif such 
as those of Rese and Bock, by focusing on the narrative structure of Luke-Acts and on 
"intertextual" features beyond direct quotations of the Scriptures of Israel to understand 
Luke's notion of "fulfillment". Denova has made a helpful, engaging contribution to 
Luke-Acts scholarship. Kenneth D. Litwak, University of Bristol 

Herman Ridderbos, The Gospel of John, A Theological Commentary, GrunA Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1997. 

In his preface Herman Ridderbos states that his interest is in presenting a 
"theological exegesis of the Gospel, that is, in dealing with the significance of the gospel 
message that the Evangelist had in view as he wrote" (p. xiii). 

Interested readers of the Fourth Gospel can be grateful to Ridderbos for both this 
intention and its achievement in this lengthy, stimulating and satisfying commentary. 

Eschewing treatment of the plethora of preliminary questions that cluster around 
study of this gospel Ridderbos begins by presenting a sustained examination of the 
'"Peculiar Character of the Fourth Gospel." He adroitly addresses the issue of the 
relationship between history and revelation with respect to the questions of authorship 
and the narrow focus of the gospel on Christology concluding that. "The point at issue 
is always what Jesus said and did in his self-disclosure on earth, but it is transmitted in 
its lasting validity with the independence of an apostle who was authorized to speak by 
Jesus and endowed with the promise of the Spirif" (p. 16). 

From this starting point/conclusion the commentary proceeds to elucidate with 
insight John's account of Jesus. Taking this concern seriously produces an exposition 
focused on answering the question "Who is Jesus?" The result is an account that takes 
the historical person of Jesus seriously (but not naively so) and one that keeps in focus 
the stated historical purpose of Jesus' coming— to bring life through his sacrificial death. 
On both counts there is enormous benefit for the reader. 

Ridderbos" concern to exegete in line with the stated purpose of the gospel is 
welcome in that he takes the author's own statement in John 20:3 1 seriously; although 



130 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

the understanding of that purpose may be more evangelistic than Ridderbos allows. 

In the midst of so much scholarly material concerning the gospel it is refreshing 
to read a commentary that is focused on the text and keeps secondary literature 
discussions to a minimum. Having said this, Ridderbos is not unaware of the 
contemporary scholarship and interacts judiciously affording insight into European 
scholarship in particular. Perhaps due to the date of the commentary there is a lack of 
interaction with more modem literary approaches—one suspects to the detriment of the 
exposition at points; although Ridderbos' generally "relaxed' approach to issues of 
structure will be appreciated by many who find the intricacies of some such analyses 
difficult to follow. 

The many issues in Johannine theology are not ignored but dealt with along the 
way, again in succinct and insightful fashion, with a final collection of statements 
addressing issues of authorship and the presence of a Johannine "circle'. 

Various extended discussions of topics occur along the way—notably on the 
various possible interpretations of John 6, the problem of the identity of the Jews, Flesh 
and Spirit, The Paraclete— but one wishes that even more such discussions and syntheses 
were present. 

For all its theological intention, the format of the commentary with its measured 
procession through the text leaves some important theological themes embedded in 
piecemeal fashion through the exposition when the reader may have benefitted from a 
gathering together of material and more extended theological reflection. 

Two areas come immediately to mind. The nature of the "kosmos" and the 
nuanced portrait offered in the gospel concerning the interaction and relationships 
between the Father, Son and kosmos is worthy of further sustained reflection. So, also, 
is the question of the tension between the notions of "determinism/predestination' and 
"belief in the Gospel. Ridderbos seems uneasy with any notion of predestination in 
John but it is difficult to get a grasp on the whole of this thought on this particular topic 
due to the scattered nature of the comments. 

There are other issues and themes that could have had similar treatment but 
perhaps we wait in hope for a Johannine theology to explore these at greater length? 

We are in the debt of both Ridderbos and his translator for a weighty addition to 
the ever expanding body of literature on John's Gospel. One leaves this commentary 
thankful for a careful exposition focused around the question— Who is Jesus?; an 
exposition which allows the text to speak on its own terms, giving the reader food for 
thought and the preacher much to say. 

W.H. Salier, Moore Theological College, Newton, Australia 

Ajith Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary: Acts, Grand Rapids: Zondervan 
1998. 464 pp., $24.99. 

The author of this commentary, a graduate of Asbury and Fuller theological 
seminaries, lives and works in a missionary situation as National Director of Youth for 
Christ in Sri Lanka. As an Asian theologian he has a rich experience on which to draw 
when he seeks to expound the contemporary significance of the book of Acts. What we 
have is a missionary commentary on a missionary book. So very early on when he deals 



131 



Book Reviews 

with the opening verses of the book we get a discussion of truth and postmodernism [58- 
63] a theme we return to more than once. He shows particular interest in evangelism and 
what he calls 'follow-through care' of converts and various aspects of the leadership of 
believers. He suggests that 'the biggest crisis facing the evangelical church today is a 
spiritually weak leadership' and quotes with approval a dictum of Spurgeon's about the 
need for people who 'talk in scriptural language' [176]. He also addresses issues in 
relation to non-Christian religions, for example, the difficulties Jews, Muslims and 
Buddhists have with the crucifixion of Christ. 

The structure of this series of commentaries consists of an exposition of the 
original meaning of the text, a section headed bridging contexts', and then a third 
section on contemporary significance. Fernando confesses that he does not find this 
format congenial and that he struggles to contain his exposition within the appropriate 
categories. He would have preferred to integrate the three sections into one discussion. 
This becomes evident when for example the same topic is addressed in both the bridging 
section and that on contemporary significance (so baptism in the Holy Spirit), or when 
the question. Are signs and wonders for today? is addressed in a bridging section. 

In his exposition of the original meaning Fernando draws on the arguments of 
Ramsay, Bruce and Hemer to argue that the book of Acts is historically reliable. There 
is little room here given to German scepticism. The Gospels were also ^written as 
history' and one of the most important responses we can make to pluralism with its 
relativism and subjective views of truth is to point to Mhe evidence for the objective 
historicity of the Gospels'. Although the author regrets that he had inadequate access to 
journals writing in Sri Lanka, he nevertheless gives an excellent guide to the literature 
with which he is in sympathy. At the same time he is prepared to go beyond respected 
evangelical teachers such as Fee and Stott and argue that narratives can embody 
Christian principles for today even when the text does not explicitly say so. He concedes 
that this hermeneutic needs to be employed cautiously [39-40, 556]. 

There are weak passages in the exposition from time to time. For example he 
works with a single messianic expectation among the Jews but it is now clear that there 
was a spectrum of differing views [e.g. Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the 
Christian Era, ed. Jacob Neusner et al Cambridge University Press 1987]. On Peter=s 
speech in Acts 2 he does not comment on the moment when Jesus was made Lord and 
Christ [v. 36] and what this implies about his messianic status before this. He makes no 
reference to the 'missing words' of 8:36-37. While he has some important comments on 
contextualisation in relation to Paul's speech to the Areopagus he does not expound the 
significance of the words Paul quoted from the Greek poets [17:28]. In fact he clearly 
attributes more importance to the significance of the text for today than to the exposition 
of its original meaning. At the same time he comes out with striking phrases such as 
'suffering in an asprin age' [157-59] and he has some excellent comments of the 'no 
other name' text of 4:12 [163-66]. He may take an unpopular line in arguing that the 
early church was right to share resources [182-85] but we probably could have been 
spared his notes on a talk about biblical unity [ 1 85-89]. 

So a mixed bag: some excellent discussions of the relevance of Acts for mission 
and evangelism today but readers seeking more detailed exposition of the text will need 
to refer to some of the commentaries Fernando used. 

Arthur Rowe, Spurgeon's College, London 

132 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

Howard Clark Kee, To Every Nation under Heaven: The Acts of the Apostles (The 
New Testament in Context). Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997. 
Paul W. Walaskay, Acts (Westminster Bible Companion). Louisville, KY: 
Westminster John Knox Press, 1998. 

Kee and Walaskay have both produced commentaries for the general reader. 
Kee's commentary is part of the series "The New Testament in Context," which 
emphasizes sociological analysis of New Testament documents. Kee begins with a brief 
overview of "introductory" issues, such as the origins of Acts, the theology and genre 
of Acts, and the main emphases of the commentary. According to Kee, the focus of the 
commentary is on "meaning in the historical context rather than on the modem quest for 
what is perceived to be objective historical factuality" (p. 13). Kee bases this focus on 
the view that what is important in analyzing an historical document is its intended 
meaning, not the certainty of the events it records. So, Kee aims to "consider the various 
facets of the context in which the writer and his initial readers lived and thought: the 
religious assumptions, the political framework and structures of power, and above all the 
sociocultural features of the author and the initially intended readers" (p. 13). After 
briefly noting traditional and recent views on the authorship of Acts, Kee states that the 
primary focus of his commentary is on the "special aims, concepts and strategy of its 
author, rather than on his identity" (p. 2). Kee follows this with a brief section on the 
history of the interpretation of Acts, highlighting the benefits available from 
sociocultural analysis of Acts, while criticizing the work of some scholars for trying to 
force the data into artificial categories like "honor and shame." In asking about "Acts 
as history," Kee argues that what is of paramount importance when reading an historical 
work is not to ask. Is this what really happened? but, "What meaning is this report 
seeking to convey?" (P. 13). Kee argues that the genre of Acts is apologetic 
historiography, with some influence from ancient romances as well. Kee then 
summarizes the theology of Acts, including brief sections on "The Sovereign God," 
"Jesus the Messiah," "The Holy Sprit," and "The New People of God.". 

The commentary itself has a straightforward format. The text of a portion of Acts 
is given, followed by a summary of the passage, most valuable for the geographical, 
historical or linguistic details Kee supplies. The translation Kee provides for 
commentary is idiosyncratic at times, and Kee does not alert the reader when he deviates 
significantly from more standard translations. Along with this, Kee refers to specific 
verses in his commentary, but since he provides no verse numbers in his translation, the 
reader either needs to have the verse numbers memorized or must consult another 
translation to follow Kee's discussion. Following the commentary Kee supplies a select 
bibliography, divided into multiple sections, such as "Historical and Sociological 
Method" and "Paul in Acts" (pp. 338-44) plus indexes of scriptural references, ancient 
and modern authors and subjects. The bibliography seems generally balanced in the 
perspective of the works cited, if somewhat modest. Kee also provides additional 
references in the endnotes. 

Although Kee's avowed approach would make for an interesting commentary, 
he rarely addresses the aims, concepts or strategy of the author. He notes on occasion 
that the author has crafted his narrative to show that the Way is still part of Judaism and 
therefore lawful to the Romans and that Christians are no threat to the Roman 



133 



Book Reviews 

government. Beyond this, most of the concepts that may be present in Acts are treated 
briefly at best. When Kee does treat a concept, he includes material from outside of 
Acts, including material that post-dates Acts by over a century. Kee does occasionally 
seek to inject sociological observations into the discussion, noting especially occasions 
where the church is pictured as unified or when something threatens that unity. Kee 
repeatedly describes baptism as a rite by which one enters the community of believers, 
but never addresses its relation to repentance or faith. After attacking those with a 
different approach to social-scientific criticism, one would expect Kee to do more in the 
way of presenting an alternative approach that is not so reductionistic. 

The best part of the work are the numerous excurses sprinkled throughout the 
commentary, especially in the section dealing with Paul's third missionary journey 
where Kee provides geographical descriptions for every city to which Paul traveled. 
These excurses range from the first, which focuses on the meaning of "apostle" 
everywhere in the NT except Acts (p. 32), to one on Paul's lodging in Rome (p. 297). 
In one excursus, Kee argues that when Luke states that the apostles were gathered in 
Acts 1 . "fully devoted" to prayer (proseuche). this actually refers not to the act of prayer 
but to the place of prayer (pp. 37-38). Many of the excurses, such as the geographical 
descriptions, are similar to what may be found in a basic Bible dictionary. Others deal 
with more theological or historical issues, such as the make-up of the Sanhedrin or the 
issue of the pre-70 A.D. synagogue. 

These features make it difficult to determine for whom this book is written. On 
the one hand, the book assumes the reader is knowledgeable in New Testament 
studies — including, e.g., an understanding of what is meant by the "Q tradition." The 
commentary, however, largely restates what the text of Acts already says. Thus, Kee 
does not really add significantly to a basic understanding of Acts. Were it not for the 
specialized knowledge presumed, this would be most suitable for a beginning student 
or non-scholar wishing to understand Acts better. 

Paul Walaskay states at the outset of his work that it is for interested lay persons, 
like Bible study leaders. This volume is part of the Westminster Bible Companion 
series, a series intended to "help the laity of the church read the Bible more clearly and 
intelligently" (p. Xi). In keeping with this intended audience, Walaskay avoids technical 
jargon. Instead, he explains exegetical issues in a simple manner and often offers 
practical applications or devotional thoughts along the way. The commentary uses the 
NRSV for a translation, which Walaskay augments by noting when the translation is 
inadequate or when important textual questions come up, such as at Acts 20:28. 

Walaskay begins his commentary with an introduction that covers basic questions 
like. Who wrote Acts? When was Acts written? To whom was Acts addressed? In 
addition to these basic questions, the introduction raises other, more contemporary 
matters. For example, Walaskay discusses the purpose of Acts with regard to Luke's 
apparent anti-Semitism (pp. 14-16). There is also a section in the introduction entitled 
"The Book of Acts in the Lives of Contemporary Christians " (p. 21 ). 

The commentary takes a straightforward approach. First, there is a block of the 
text of Acts (with verse numbers!). Then, Walaskay provides an explanation of this 
section. While Walaskay's interpretations of each passage are not detailed exegesis, they 
are in general more informative about the meaning of the text than Kee's. Walaskay 
generally incorporates scholarly discussion within the course of the commentary but 

134 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

occasionally treats important matters in a separate section, similar to Kee's excurses. 
For example, Walaskay provides ''Some Concluding Observations regarding Luke's 
Narrative and Paul's Recollection of the First Christian Council" (pp. 150-51). 
Walaskay suggests that, rather than the two most common solutions to the apparent 
differences between Acts and Paul's letters, it may be best to see the two accounts as 
both "ancient, authoritative and sometimes conflicting" (p. 150). Most probably the 
"real Paul lies somewhere between Paul's self-disclosures and Luke's portrait" (p. 151 ). 

Walaskay concludes the commentary with a very short bibliography that is not as 
balanced as Kee's. Unlike Kee's commentary, there are no indexes or endnotes. While 
this lack may be explained on the basis of the intended audience, the commentary could 
be helped by having at least an index of subjects. This would be an aid to the Bible 
study leaders for whom the commentary series is designed. 

Along the way, Walaskay discusses important topics in critical scholarship on 
Acts. For example, in treating Acts 2, Walaskay discusses the source of Peter's speech, 
Luke's use and creation of speeches and the use and creation of speeches in accounts of 
the past in Hellenistic times in general (pp. 36-38). Walaskay's discussion of speeches 
provides an example of just how "contemporary" he seeks to be. This is certainly the 
first treatment of the speeches of Acts based on the analogy of soap operas that I know 
of Such references do, however, somewhat limit the audience for this commentary on 
cultural grounds. 

Walaskay has set himself the task of explaining the text of Acts to educated lay 
persons, particularly those who are Bible study leaders. He has achieved that goal, while 
neither ignoring completely important critical issues nor getting involved in overly- 
technical discussions outside the intention of the commentary. As such this could be 
a helpful book for group study. Some readers, however, will want a commentary that 
has a more positive appraisal of Luke as an historian, such as I. Howard Marshall's 
Tyndale commentary on Acts. Others may find Walaskay's discussions of critical 
matters, such as ancient speeches, irrelevant. Educated lay persons who want to be 
aware of these sorts of issues will find this a helpful commentary. 

Given the fairly general nature of both commentaries, Kee's and Walaskay's, 
readers would probably do better with Walaskay's commentary for understanding Acts. 
Those who want to go into depth on Acts and fully engage critical issues will need to 
look elsewhere. Kenneth D. Litwak 

Ivoni Richter Reimer, Women in the Acts of the Apostles. A Feminist Liberation 
Perspective. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1995. 

Going beyond the observation, which others have made, that Acts has a focus on the 
role of women in the early church. Ivoni Richter Reimer seeks to analyze what Luke says 
and does not say about women in the book of Acts. After an introduction which outlines 
the author's perspective and aims, there follow chapters on individual, named women 
in Acts as well as a chapter on women mentioned briefly or not at all in Acts. This is 
followed by a summary practical application of the results. Through the stories of 
women and their struggles in Acts, the author desires that women and men in the present 
will be inspired and strengthened "in their struggle against oppression and for liberation" 
(p. 267). It is evident from many such statements throughout the book that the author 

135 



Book Reviews 

wishes her book to be much more than simply academic research. 

Richter Reimer seeks to reconstruct the stories of women in Acts from the 
perspective of Latin American liberation theology and "its clarification through feminist 
liberation theology" (xix). Richter Reimer gives three reasons to examine the "women" 
passages in Acts. First the stories and experiences of women in Acts are of particular 
interest to Latin American liberation theology. Second, up until this book, there has 
been no thoroughgoing study of the "women" passages in Acts. Third, Acts was chosen 
because "women, then as now, have a central position in those churches or base 
communities... (xix). This book is a commentary on the passages which speak of women 
in Acts. It is not a verse-by-verse commentary as such, but deals with issues specific to 
the women in the narrative. Richter Reimer focuses particularly on those points at which 
she finds the "dominant exegesis" unsatisfactory, i.e., interpretations which are 
patriarchal, oppressive or which diminish or omit the role of women in the narrative and 
in early Christianity. For example, New Testament exegesis has neglected women's 
"material" work. In fact, one "gets the impression that women were constantly shoved 
into the 'sacred' niche in the patriarchal family and taken care of by their men" (xx). 

Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) is the subject of chapter 1. Richter Reimer argues that 
Sapphira, while not free of guilt, is not guilty of the same sin as Ananias. Richter 
Reimer first seeks to show what the sins of Ananias and the sin of Sapphira were. After 
a lengthy treatment of common property within the first Christian community, the author 
concludes that the property being sold belonged to Sapphira. for otherwise, she would 
not have to be involved in the sale. Ananias' sin involved deception in keeping back 
part of the price of the money, violating the well-being of the community. Sapphira, 
while guilty of sin, is guilty of a different sin. She was an accomplice to Ananias, but 
her sin was in not exposing Ananias' sin, not for agreeing with Ananias to keep back 
part of the price. Rather than seeking the help and protection of the community, 
Sapphira acceded to the "violence of a patriarchal marriage that in fact was already 
overcome, or should have been overcome, within the community of the saints" (15). 
Sapphira's "guilty shared knowledge can only exist in the presence of degenerate 
structures of power..." (15). 

In chapter 2, Richter Reimer argues that the story of Dorcas' revivification is not 
merely to show Peter as a wonder worker but also to present Dorcas as a role model. 
She argues further that commentators err in viewing Dorcas as nothing more than a 
widow making garments. She also participates in spreading the good news, as a 
committed follower (disciple). Richter Reimer includes a lengthy discussion of views 
regarding resurrection in early Judaism and Christianity as context for the kind of 
miracle performed by Peter, which was not a resurrection. 

The treatment of Lydia, discussed in chapter 3, is much different from the dominant 
exegesis of Acts 16. First, Richter Reimer argues that proseuche elsewhere in Greek 
literature and inscriptions regularly means "synagogue." She asserts therefore that this 
usage is also present in Acts 16, and that it is only out of patriarchal ideology that 
commentators refuse to acknowledge proseuche as a synagogue (90). The author also 
argues that those who sold purple cloth generally made the purple cloth as well, and 
suggests that Lydia, far from being part of the upper class, was doing a job despised by 
the upper class as "dirty." Instead, Lydia worked alongside other women in her house 
and managed to make a subsistence living with them. 

136 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

The mantic slave girl of Acts 16 is wrongly treated by the dominant exegesis as 
being liberated by Paul. After discussing the manumission of slaves and property rights 
of slave owners, Richter Reimer argues that it is inappropriate to view the sprit of 
Python as an evil spirit or demon. Paul's exorcism bears little resemblance to exorcisms 
by Jesus or by others in Acts. Having Paul cast out the spirit means that the slave girl's 
lot in life is now made worse because she is now of no value to her masters. 

Just as the dominant exegesis has downplayed the importance of Lydia in the 
synagogue and in the house church in her home, so too has it downplayed the 
importance of Priscilla. Commentators on the whole acknowledge Aquila as a tent 
maker and a companion in Paul's ministry but downplay or omit Priscilla. Richter 
Reimer shows how the Western text has relegated Priscilla to Aquila's shadow and 
argues that scholars have implicitly done the same. 

Richter Reimer provides much valuable socio-historical background for Acts. 
Contrary to this reviewer's fears, the book is not a sustained attack on Luke for being too 
patriarchal, though there are such elements in Richter Reimer's analysis. Instead she 
focuses on the "dominant exegesis" of passages and seeks to show how the dominant 
exegetical tradition has downplayed or omitted the significance of women in the Acts 
of the Apostles. The book also has many detailed discussions of issues that illuminate 
the first century milieu of Acts. At the same time, however, these discussions are often 
not integrated into the analysis of the narrative of Acts. There are also questions to be 
asked for further research. For example, how does the judgment by Richter Reimer that 
Acts is "androcentric" and "'patriarchal" relate to the narrative and theological aims of 
Luke? Why did Luke include a given story about anyone in Acts? So Richter Reimer's 
analysis needs to ask questions about women in Acts in the larger context of what the 
purpose of Acts is — an issue she does not address. Kenneth Litwak, Maipitas, CA 

W. E. Mills and R. F. Wilson, Eds. Acts and Pauline Writings. (Mercer 
Commentary on the Bible, Vol. 7). Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1997. 
Lxxx+291, pp. $18.95. 

Professors and students engaged in teaching and studying "Acts and Pauline 
Epistles" will be greatly interested in taking a closer look at Volume 7 of Mercer 
Commentary on the Bible (originally published in 1 995). Despite the title of the series, 
the work consists of both brief commentaries on Acts and the individual books of the 
corpus Paulinum as well as relevant articles ranging from such entries as 
"Apostle/ Apostleship", "Church", "Faith", "Hellenistic World", "Justification", "We- 
sections", to "Women in the NT". The collection of brief articles and commentaries are 
reprints from the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible and the Mercer Commentary on the 
Bible respectively. 

It is the merit of such a book to bring a vast area of study together in one book. 
The articles promise that specialists in various areas (such as D. Aune on "Hellenistic 
World") will offer a concise and well-informed introduction to the student. Some 
articles disappoint, however. The entry on "Faith" is too brief and undifferentiated to 
be theologically helpful. The author (Wayne Ward) presents a shallow understanding 
of the Reformed view of faith, then claims that faith is a "free acceptance" of God's gift. 



137 



Book Reviews 

i.e. the human "response affirming the work of God", only to state as a "paradox" later 
that a human being is "enabled to believe" by the grace of God (p. xxxii; one wonders 
about the exact nature of Ward's anthropology). Likewise, the egalitarian view with 
regard to roles of "Women in the New Testament" (Molly Marshall, pp. Ixxvi-lxxx) is 
not compared with the complementarian reading of the same data. The commentaries 
serve as useful initial introductions to the content of Acts and Pauline epistles. At times, 
however, they run the risk of merely retelling the contents present in the New Testament 
in order to maintain brevity. 

One methodological note must suffice before we proceed to a general assessment 
of the book. Having been exposed to - and lived in - the milieu of German historical- 
critical study for over two decades, the present reviewer frequently observes insufficient 
critical assessment of so-called "critical scholarship." 

In conclusion, the following impression remains: The keen and alert professor 
will want to "pick the raisins" out of the above mentioned Dictionary and Bible 
Commentary and complement them with other signifi canty OMrna/ articles on key issues 
relevant to Acts and Pauline Letters. He will reference to diverse and leading 
commentaries wrestling with the literary, historical, and theological issues; he will use 
relevant articles from various dictionaries (including the IVP Dictionary of Paul and 
His Letters as well as the IVP Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its 
Developments) and thus develop a course that is continuously updated and also reflects 
diverse theological insights. Despite the merit which the present work possesses, it 
appears too "ready made" (and in part deficient) to engage the student in genuine 
literary, historical and theological issues raised by the study of Acts and Pauline epistles. 

Pedagogical ly, it would be useful to include a detailed integrative chart (see only 
the very brief chart on p. Ix), relating Acts, Pauline chronology and Pauline epistles to 
each other. Furthermore, for a work such as this, an index would be helpful. 

Hans F. Bayer 

Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and 
Preaching, Nashville, TN: John Knox Press, 1997. 

Richard Hays, Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, maintains 
the strong tradition of the Interpretation series of Bible Commentaries. These are 
commentaries designed for teaching and preaching purposes. Research background 
includes serious biblical scholarship with an eye for contemporary application. A 
knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is not required for understanding the commentary's 
interpretation. This particular commentary would be appreciated by both the Sunday 
School teacher and the Sunday morning preacher. 

One discovers quickly in this commentary that the author has an interesting view 
of sociocultural norms and practices of the time. Hays is able to identify thematic links 
through the sometimes rambling directions of Paul's writing. 

Each major section of the commentary has a portion entitled: "Reflections for 
Teachers and Preachers." The well written comments allow interpreters of the passage 
to use the text as a mirror in which one can find one's own reflection. For example Hays 
sees the text of Paul's letter challenging our habit of thinking of ministry as a 
"profession" and therefore distorting our concept of the church and our role in it. "Are 

138 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

we using the church as though it were ours, or as though it were an instrument for the 
advancement of our own careers or causes? If so, we need to be reminded that the 
church belongs to God, and that it is God's project, not ours. Are we treating church- 
building as a business or a competitive sport? If so, we are boasting in something other 
than the gospel." 

Individual commentaries in an particular series of commentaries are likely to stand 
out as exceptional. You might agree with this reviewer that this commentary on First 
Corinthians is one of the best in the Interpretation Series. Cliff Stewart 

J. Louis Martyn, Galatians,A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary, 
Anchor Bible 33A, New York: Doubleday, 1997, 614 pp. + xxiv. 

The letter to the Galatians touches on so many issues central to Pauline studies 
and the Christian life-the place of the law, justification by faith, the origin and essence 
of Paul's gospel, the role of the Holy Spirit, and how believers are to live. J. Louis 
Martyn, Edward Robinson Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology at Union 
Theological Seminary in New York, has provided us with an excellent commentary on 
the letter and insightful discussion of the key themes. 

The 614-page volume is much more than a commentary. Martyn gives us 52 
essays on selected themes as well as his own translation of the entire letter. In many 
ways, the essays are the most useful and important part of the book. Through these 
extended comments, Martyn skillfully immerses the reader into his interpretation of the 
life setting and drama behind Galatians. Martyn is an outstanding writer and explains 
the difficult and complex themes with clarity. 

Martyn contends that Paul wrote the letter after the Jerusalem Council to the 
churches he planted in the ethnic territory of Galatia, which would include the cities of 
Ankyra, Tavium, and Pessinus. There were no synagogues and no Jews in this region; 
the churches consisted strictly of Gentiles. Shortly after Paul left, a group of Messianic- 
Jewish evangelists who had some connection with Jerusalem paid a visit to these 
churches. These Torah-observant Christians subverted what Paul had taught by insisting 
that the Galatian Gentiles needed to embrace and observe the law, starting with 
circumcision. They argued that there was no conflict between Christ and the law, he 
came to ftilfill it. Appalled by the sinful lifestyle of these Gentile believers, "the 
Teachers" insisted that the Torah was their principal ally in subduing the evil inclination 
("the flesh"). 

Martyn argues that Paul wrote in response to the impact these teachers had on 
these fledgling Christian communities. Much of what Paul wrote, Martyn contends, was 
in direct response to the content of what they taught. 

I find much of Martyn's reconstruction quite convincing. Unfortunately, Martyn 
does not interact with some of the best of recent scholarship defending a "south Galatia" 
view (that Paul writes to Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe) that typically 
leads to a date for the letter prior to the Jerusalem Council. He ignores the important 
monograph of Colin Hemer {The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History 
[1989]) and is aware of Stephen Mitchell's volume {Anatolia [1993]; see also h.\s,ABD 
entry on "Galatia"), but does not interact with his arguments. One may now also find 



139 



Book Reviews 

an able defense of the south Galatia view in Ben Witherington's commentaries on Acts 
and Galatians. Further consideration of this proposal could lead Martyn out of the 
quandary he faces in having to say that Paul suppresses certain dimensions of the 
Jerusalem proceedings (p. 208) and shapes his account quite extensively (p. 209). 

As is well known from Martyn's other writings, he interprets Paul's gospel in 
terms of apocalyptic. Rather than focusing on the parousia as the high point of God's 
apocalyptic triumph (as J. C. Becker), Martyn emphasizes the cross of Christ, which 
marks God's liberating invasion of the present evil age. Jesus' death was the powerful 
deed that freed us from captivity to the evil powers of this age. There is much to be said 
for Martyn's explanation of apocalyptic. 

Martyn is quite sympathetic to many of the features of the '"New Perspective." He 
attempts to refute the Reformed perspective on Deut 27:26 (cited in Gal 3:10) whereby 
it is claimed that anyone who disobeys even the smallest detail of the law is under a 
curse. The impotence of the law, Martyn contends, is not in human inability to keep the 
whole of the law without stumbling, but rather the inability of the law to bring 
justification and life. Essentially, Paul's quarrel with the law is that it is not God's 
elected means of setting things right and supplying the Spirit. He thus travels far down 
the road with E. P. Sanders in viewing Christ as the solution and then reasoning back 
to the plight of humanity (contra F. Thielman). 

I find Martyn's translation of dikaiod as "to rectify" (and thus, "rectified" and 
"rectification") unsatisfying. Granted, "justification" language comes with a load of 
theological baggage to contemporary readers, but given the long history of usage of 
term, it cannot be jettisoned altogether. "Rectify" comes with its own contemporary set 
of usages that are not altogether congruent with our Greek term. 

This is an outstanding commentary and will have a significant impact on the 
course of scholarship on Galatians. Because of the clarity and readability, it will be 
quite helpful to students. Clinton E. Arnold, Talbot School of Theology 

Terence Donaldson, Paul and the Gentiles: Remapping the Apostle's Convictional 
World, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997, xvii + 409 pp. 

How can we explain Paul's desire to engage in a mission to the Gentiles? For 
most readers of this journal, the answer to that question will seem self-evident. Paul 
believed that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, were "sinners in the sight of God, 
justly deserving his displeasure" (to quote the membership vows of many Presbyterian 
churches). The insight that Gentiles could be rescued from this situation by faith in 
Christ came to Paul at his conversion on the road to Damascus when God called him to 
go "far away to the Gentiles" and preach the gospel (Acts 22:2 1 ). 

In this provocative monograph, Terence Donaldson argues that this traditional 
understanding of Paul's mission to the Gentiles is wrong. Instead, both before and after 
his conversion, the pattern of Paul's convictions about the Gentiles follows closely a 
pattern that we find in Jewish literature from Paul's period: Gentiles who wanted to 
escape the eschatological wrath of God were required to become Jewish proselytes. The 
only major difference between the pattern of Paul's convictions about the Gentiles 
before and after the Damascus event was that prior to his conversion the boundary 



140 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

marker for God's people had been the Jewish law, but now the boundary marker was 
Christ. 

What prompted Paul to view Christ and the Jewish law as mutually exclusive 
boundary markers? What caused him, somewhat inconsistently, to maintain even after 
his conversion that the distinction between Jew and Gentile remained important? The 
answer to both questions lies in the eschatological expectations of the early Christians, 
including Paul. Paul believed that in Christ the final age had dawned and that Christ 
would return shortly. When he returned, only those who believed in him would be 
saved. Such fervent expectations led Paul to elevate allegiance to Christ over allegiance 
to the Jewish law as the requirement for entry into the company of those who would be 
saved from God's eschatological wrath. 

At the same time, since Paul expected Christ to come very soon it was possible 
for him still to speak of Israel as a distinct people and the Jews as a distinct social group. 
Thus when Paul says that at the eschaton "all Israel" will be saved (Rom 1 1:26), he 
means that soon all the ethnic Jews alive during his lifetime will believe in Christ and 
experience the restoration promised by the prophets. Just as he thought before his 
conversion, Paul believed that Gentiles who had become proselytes by the final day 
would be rescued from God's wrath. Now, however, after his conversion, Paul believed 
that Gentiles became proselytes by faith in Christ, not by "works of the law" and that 
Jewish belief in Christ would be part of the scenario of eschatological restoration. 

The trouble with this reconstruction of Paul's convictions about the Gentiles lies 
not in its claim that Paul saw Christ and the Jewish law as mutually exclusive boundary 
markers for the people of God, but in its explanation of passages in Paul that show a 
continued interest in ethnic distinctions (e.g. Rom 1:16; 9:27; 11:11 -32; 1 5:25-27). It 
is unclear why such passages cannot refer to the chronological pattern of the gospel's 
progress from a Jewish context to the Gentile world and back, at the eschaton, to the 
involvement of Jews. It is true that this matches no previously known pattern of Jewish 
convictions about the Gentiles, but, if it is unique, it is not the only element of Paul's 
theology that has no known precedent. Moreover, unless we adopt something like the 
traditional explanation of these passages, it becomes difficult to account for those places 
in Paul's letters where Paul envisions Christians — whether from Jewish or Greek 
backgrounds — as a third entity, "the church of God" (1 Cor 9:19-21; 10:32). 

This brief summary and note of caution can scarcely do justice to the 
thoroughness and care with which Donaldson has argued his case. This is a significant 
book for Pauline scholarship, and will be widely discussed. If in the end it fails to 
convince, it nevertheless succeeds in placing a critical issue in Pauline theology back on 
the discussion table and in raising the debate to a new level. 

Frank Thielman, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, AL 

Martin Hengel and Anna Maria Schwemer, Paul between Damascus and Antioch: 
the Unknown Years, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997, xiv + 530 pp. 

Of Paul's ministry, which spanned some thirty years, we have a degree of 
knowledge corresponding to only seven of these years (during which he wrote most of 
his extant correspondence — an important arm of Paul's ministry to which Luke makes 



Book Reviews 

no reference). A significant, and formative, portion of Paul's Christian biography is thus 
shrouded in comparative darkness, and yet it was during these relatively 'silent years' 
that the basis of Paul's theology was formed and developed into maturity. 

In Paul between Damascus and Antioch: the Unknown Years, Hengel explores 
this formative phase of the apostle's Christian ministry. He outlines the historical, 
political and Jewish religious environment of Damascus, Arabia, Tarsus, and, at greatest 
length, Antioch. With regard to these places, Hengel affirms that Damascus was the 
setting for one of the earliest Christian communities in a Hellenistic city outside 
Palestine; it is only from Luke that we learn the largely undisputed fact that Tarsus was 
the birthplace of Paul; it may have been during Paul's time in "Arabia" that he developed 
his views on circumcision; and the suggestion, made by Bousset and reinforced later by 
Bultmann and more recently by Becker, that an early Hellenistic Christian community 
in Antioch was significant in the development of Paul's own theology is roundly 
opposed. Furthermore, he argues that the influence of Paul on Antioch was probably 
greater than any influence the Antioch Christian community may have had on Paul. 

The overall picture which emerges from Luke's second account is powerfully and 
to a large extent corroborated by the Pauline corpus of letters. Any suggestion that Paul 
was a vacillating thinker whose theology was continually being developed does no 
justice to the evidence which emerges in a comparison between his earliest and later 
letters. The years between Damascus and Antioch were extremely important for his later 
ministry, and it was during these years, well before his first extant letter, that the 
foundations of his ministry and theology were formed. 

Paul's sense of apostleship, specifically to the gentiles, derives from the earliest 
period following his conversion. This motivation toward mission is prompted by the 
content of the message, rather than his Jewish background. Furthermore, the foundation 
of Paul's theology — including his christology and understanding of the role of the 
Torah — stems from his personal encounter with the risen Christ on the Damascus road. 
This is the only clear explanation for so radical a conversion in his life. This christology, 
however, was already a part of the earliest Christian communities, evidence for which 
is seen in the numerous pre-Pauline sayings and motifs which are incorporated in his 
later letters. There is development over time, however, in Paul's conception of the 
geographical scope of his mission. 

The subject matter of this book closely overlaps with that of Rainer Riesner's 
Paul's Early Period: Chronology, Mission Strategy and Theology (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1998). Indeed, Hengel expresses particular indebtedness to his fellow 
German's investigation into Pauline chronology. Hengel's own contribution is the 
greater attention he gives to the roots of Pauline theology. To see both of these 
mammoth works of German conservative scholarship in English translation, however, 
is of considerable value to future research into the early ministry and theology of Paul. 

Repeatedly through the pages of this very readable account. Hengel is highly 
critical of the scepticism of the old Tubingen school which gives little credence to 
historical sources. It is unfortunate, however, that a monograph of such thoroughness, 
detail and length lacks a bibliography, a subject index and an index of ancient, non- 
biblical sources. These three shortcomings sadly restrict the full value which can be 
gained from such an extensive and valuable contribution of research. 

Andrew D. Clarke, University of Aberdeen 

142 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

Richard N. Longenecker (ed.), The Road from Damascus: the Impact of Paul's 
Conversion on his Life, Thought and Ministry, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997, xvi 
+ 253 pp, $25.00/£ 16.99. 

The series of McMaster New Testament Studies provides a context for selected 
scholars to contribute papers addressing a New Testament theme which is of particular 
concern for Christians today. In this second volume in the series, eleven papers have 
been included which focus on the ways in which Paul's experience on the Damascus 
road may have influenced his subsequent theology and ministry. Some of the many 
issues which repeatedly surface through these essays include discussion as to whether 
Paul's experience should be described as a conversion or a call, whether it should be 
seen as atypical or normative for later Christians, and the extent to which Paul's 
theology was fixed from the moment of his conversion or underwent a development, 
whether minor or more radical, over subsequent years. This latter area is a particularly 
sensitive issue for conservative Christians who fear that talk, of development implies that 
some of the later New Testament writings should be viewed as a correction of the 
naVvete of the earliest Christian writings. 

The opening chapter reflects on the changing perception of the nature of Paul's 
conversion as it has been variously interpreted over the centuries in scholarship, 
literature, culture and art. Has Paul's particular experience been too readily interpreted 
in terms of an Augustinian-Lutheran crisis of conscience in which God's grace 
overpowered Paul's arrogance? 

The remaining ten chapters consider individual elements of Paul's theology (and 
ministry): christology, eschatology, the gentile mission, justification, reconciliation, 
covenant, the Law, the Holy Spirit, women, and ethics (freedom). To what extent was 
Paul's perspective on these areas modified in the light of his Damascus road experience? 

Although the Lukan and Pauline reflections on Paul's conversion differ 
significantly over what they consider important, the centrality of Christ in this moment 
of revelation is consistent across all the accounts. From this moment Paul affirmed all 
that the earliest believers had held true about Christ, although the demands of the gentile 
mission entailed a gradual modification or contextual ization of some of the 
christological material. In the wake of his Damascus road experience, however, how did 
Paul respond to the "delay' of the parousia; do his letters focus more on the first coming 
or the second coming of the Messiah; and did Paul's encounter with Jesus as Messiah 
signify the inauguration of a new age? Similarly, did Paul's concern for the genfiles 
emerge prior to, during, or after his conversion; and was it a rejection of Jewish 
particularism? 

It is argued that Paul's understanding of justification by faith was already a 
fundamental part of his Jewish upbringing and identity. His experience on the road to 
Damascus signified, therefore, not so much God's acceptance of him and the resolution 
of a troubled conscience, but, rather, the realization that the privilege of relationship 
with God was not restricted to the nation of Israel. The Jewish understanding of 
justification by faith was not wrong; rather it was too narrow, or particularist. The 
origins of Paul's understanding of reconciliation may also hark back to Paul's Damascus 
road experience, which he regarded as God's action of reconciling an enemy to himself 
These reflections on reconciliation are then substantiated for Paul by reference to both 

143 



Book Reviews 

the Isaianic Servant songs and Jesus tradition. Prior to liis conversion Paul conceived 
the covenant to be ethnically circumscribed, where obedience to the law was encumbent 
on all ethnic Jews as the right response to God's covenant righteousness. After his 
conversion Paul seeks to redefine the boundaries of the covenant in terms of those who 
are of faith, regardless of ethnic identity, where pistis Christou is a reference to the 
'faithfulness of Christ', as opposed to "faith in Christ'. Also discussed is the degree to 
which Paul's post-conversion conception of the Mosaic Law was consistent with what 
he had formerly held. 

Paul rarely speaks of the Holy Spirit when referring specifically to his own 
conversion. On the other hand he repeatedly associates the conversion of his addressees 
with their reception of the Holy Spirit, and then often identifies himself in such 
experiences. One implication which can be carried forward is that Paul regarded his own 
conversion in terms of reception of the Holy Spirit. That experience of the Spirit at 
conversion, however, should characterise all subsequent Christian living. In a similar 
way, the freedom which Paul experienced at his own conversion, clearly portrayed in 
Galatians, is something which should characterise all Christian living. 

Also addressed within these chapters are the extent to which Paul's post- 
conversion views on women differed from those of contemporary Hellenistic Jews; 
whether his Christian theology favoured egalitarianism; and the extent to which 
patriarchal elements were culturally conditioned. 

It is clear that within this volume a wide range of issues of Pauline theology and 
ministry are raised, but there is refreshingly no forced unanimity of theological 
perspective, and within its pages key debates, most notably on the "new perspective', 
continue to be pursued. The downside is that only occasional instances of "dialogue' 
between the contributors emerge through the course of the book. It may, of course, be 
that much dialogue took place in the process of compiling the essays, and elements of 
the fruit of this have been invisibly woven into the final fabric. Either way, this is not a 
significant detraction from what will be regarded as an important work, fully abreast of 
current scholarship, covering an especially topical subject. Andrew D. Clarke 

Romano Penna, Paul the Apostle: A Theological and Exegetical Study. Volume 1, 

Jew and Greek Alike. Volume 2, Wisdom and Folly of the Cross. Collegeville, MN: 

The Liturgical Press/Michael Glazier, 1996. 325 and 287 pages respectively, 

paperback, $34.95 each. 

Calvin J. Roetzel, Paul: The Man and the Myth (Studies on Personalities of the New 

Testament; Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1998). 269 pp., 

hardback, $34.95. 

Ben Witherington III, The Paul Quest: The Renewed Search for the Jew of Tarsus. 

Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998. 347 pages, hardback, $22.99. 

Romano Penna, Ordinary Professor of New Testament Exegesis at the Pontifical 
Lateran University in Rome, collects various of his essays from the past twenty years 
related to the apostle. The first volume consists of historical and exegetical essays. 
Alongside studies on Paulinism; the city of Rome, the Roman church, and Paul's 
attitude toward the Jews, there are exegetical treatments of the following passages: 



144 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

Romans 1:18-2:29,3:1-8,3:8,6:1-11,8:32; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25,7:29-31, 13:1-13, 
15:45-49; 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:10, and chaps. 10-13. The second volume is more 
thematically oriented and includes traditional exegetical-theological subjects (e.g., "Sin 
and Redemption," "The Blood of Christ," "Paul's Attitude Toward the OT," 
"Justification by Faith in Paul and James," "Law in Paul's Letters," "Pauline Morality") 
as well as articles on Pauline spirituality (e.g., "Laicity in Saint Paul," "Pauline 
Mysticism") and an appendix on "The 'Visio Pauli' and the Apocalyptic Ascents of the 
Divine Comedy." 

Penna is excellent at presenting the status of pressing questions in NT studies. For 
example. What do we know about the Jews in Rome around the time of the writing of 
Romans (cf esp. 1 : 27-47), and. Who is Paul's foil in the argument of Romans (Jewish 
Christian advocates of Paulinism, rather than opponents, who have moved in too 
libertinistic a direction; cf vol. 1, chap. 7)? Only a few minor errors mar these slightly 
revised articles (e.g., a missing umlaut [1:15, n.44] and missing closing parenthesis 
[1:1 88]) and the oral presentation form is preserved in one place (2: 10). The translation 
is consistently lucid and unobtrusive, but the reader is given no knowledge of the 
original place and time of publication of the individual articles. Although the promised 
"organic structure" is hardly evident, serious students of Paul interested in a particular 
passage or theme will find helpful studies in these volumes from one both sympathetic 
to Christian faith and engaged in critical scholarship. They illustrate among other things 
a convergence of Roman Catholic and Protestant exegetical studies, and Protestant 
readers may be surprised at the serious interaction with Protestant exegetes alongside 
Catholic ones. Penna even defends Luther against facile Catholic charges of 
antinomianism from the past (2:129). 

Calvin Roetzel, Arnold Lowe Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester 
College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, does not give us a "life of Paul" nor an attempt to 
reconstruct the apostle's theology. Rather this book is a reconstruction of "parts of 
[Paul's] image that usually fall in the shadows" ( I ); in particular, Paul the ascetic and the 
mythic Paul of the second and third centuries. It was Paul the semi-divine wonder 
worker, celibate, and martyr who was remembered in the following centuries, rather than 
the consummate theologian and proclaimer of justification by faith. Nevertheless, a 
number of more standard questions about Paul's life and thought-world are addressed 
in the early chapters. "The Early Paul" examines what we may know of Paul's childhood 
and upbringing. As in most of the book Roetzel is skeptical of the information given in 
Luke's Acts. Thus, Paul grew up in Tarsus rather than in Jerusalem (pace Acts 22:3) and 
was more influenced by Hellenism than is often recognized, which may explain, in part, 
his universalistic (i.e., pro-Genfile) outlook. This does not mean that Paul ever rejected 
Judaism, or being a Jew, but Paul's was a form of Diaspora Judaism which was strongly 
shaped by his later messianism. 

The second chapter ("The Apostle to the Gentiles") looks at Paul's "call" to the 
Gentiles (not "conversion") and at some developing aspects of Paul's understanding of 
apostleship: revelation of Christ, founding churches, suffering, miracles, and preaching 
(here again Acts does not represent what Paul said). Chapter three ("The Letter Writer") 
gives an excellent survey of the form and function of Paul's letters. Chapter four ("The 
Theologizer") traces Paul's ad hoc responses to differing situations in I Thessalonians, 
1 Corinthians, and Romans (with excurses on Galatians and 2 Corinthians). According 

145 



Book Reviews 

to Roetzel Paul did not start from a fixed or systematic theology, but had a few fixed 
presuppositions (e.g., God as the God of Israel) and theologized as necessary. Thus, for 
instance, in 1 Thessalonians Paul is silent on the implications of incorporating Gentiles 
into a fundamentally Jewish movement. In Galatians, on the other hand, nonmessianist 
Jews would seem to be disowned from the divine promises. In Romans he will wrestle 
further with the place of Jew and Gentile in the one people of God, ultimately leaving 
Israel's place "wrapped in a divine mystery" (130). 

The final two chapters are the most novel and intriguing of the book. Chapter five 
("The Model Ascetic") argues that Christian asceticism follows a trajectory from Jewish 
and Hellenistic models right through Paul on to the later centuries, rather than having 
to work its way around an essentially non-ascetic Paul. Although Paul allowed marriage 
in I Corinthians, celibacy was his own "better" way. "Thus, for Paul, marriage was an 
intermediate position between enkrateia, or self-control, and porneia, or immorality" 
(147). 

Chapter six ("The Mythic Apostle") looks at the images of Paul the celibate, the 
miracle worker, and the martyr as they developed in the post-apostolic period. While 
many today wish to see a caricature of the apostle in later works such as The Acts of 
Paul and Thecia, Roetzel's own highlighting of these aspects of the apostle's career 
makes the answer more difficult. Although later writings do differ from the canonical 
portraits (e.g., where is the weak and suffering Paul of 2 Corinthians?), "they offer an 
imaginative and perhaps a credible interpretation of emphases within the Pauline letters 
themselves" ( 1 76). Building on his more detailed previous studies (e.g., Jesus, Paul and 
the End of the World [1992], Paul's Narrative Thought World [1994], Conflict and 
Community in Corinth [ 1 995], Grace in Galatia [ 1 998]) Ben Witherington III, Professor 
of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, provides a view of Paul as a first- 
century Jewish convert to Christianity. For pastors and serious students of Paul who 
would like to know the impact of social-anthropological, rhetorical or narratological 
approaches on the understanding of the apostle this is a good place to start. The author 
writes for those needing some introduction to these (often complex) issues and the 
footnotes alert readers to starting points for study of a particular debate. 

The first two chapters deal with first-century personality ("On Constructing An 
Ancient Personality") and with Paul's own sense of identity ("The Trinity of Paul's 
Identity"). Paul was a group-oriented Mediterranean person and should not be viewed 
as a self-made man of modem western individualism. Yet, within this context Paul was 
"a change agent, a deviant, a person swimming against the current of culture" (50). As 
to Paul's identity Witherington argues that we should stress the newness, or 
discontinuity. "In the end it is perhaps better to call Paul a Jewish Christian than a 
messianic Jew" (69; italics added). While acknowledging that Paul always remained a 
Jew, he was "converted" from Judaism (Roetzel says "called"). The third chapter ("Paul 
the Writer and Rhetor") details the type of training received in letter-writing and in 
public speaking by a person like Paul. In the fourth chapter Paul's major roles of 
prophet and apostle are sketched. Here, in exonerating Paul from the charge of being a 
false prophet, Witherington distinguishes between "possible" and "necessary 
imminence" in relation to Christ's return (136-42). I.e., Did Paul say Christ "may" or 
"will" return in the near future? If the former as Witherington argues, then Paul did not 
miscalculate the future and his statements still have considerable relevance for end-of- 



146 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

the-millennium enthusiasts (though not quite what these last might envision). 

Chapters five through eight deal with various aspects of Paul's ethical and 
theological thought-world. "Paul the Realist and Radical" (ch. 5) examines Paul's 
approach to social-ethical questions such as church and state, patriarchalism, and 
slavery. Witherington shows Paul's direction toward egalitarianism, though also 
acknowledging cultural limitations (174-76), i.e., Paul balanced pragmatism with 
revolutionary ideals. "Paul the Anthropologist and Advocate" (ch. 6) provides Paul's 
view of human nature (i.e., the meaning of "heart," "flesh," "body," etc.) and then moves 
to his view of Christians in community, especially the role of women in family and 
church. "Paul the Storyteller and Exegete" (ch. 7) focuses on the larger narrative or 
story-world underlying much of what Paul says and on the ways Paul uses the major 
repository of such stories, the Old Testament. Finally, "Paul the Ethicist and Theologian" 
(ch. 8) takes up the nature of Paul's ethical reasoning and reviews recent discussion of 
the "center" of Paul's theology. A summarizing chapter concludes the book, followed by 
an appendix on Pauline chronology, a bibliography, and author and subject indexes. 

This volume is well-suited as a seminary textbook on Paul's identity and thought 
within his social context. It will be of less interest to the scholarly community since it, 
in large part, rehashes material covered in Witherington's earlier works. (This reviewer 
counted 84 footnotes referring the reader to these earlier works!) Witherington does a 
laudable job of taking sometimes very complicated developments in Pauline studies and 
condensing them to understandable summaries. For example, the treatment of advances 
in anthropological and rhetorical methods of interpretation will help those wishing to 
look into these issues. The constant references to earlier or later discussions of topics in 
the same volume (60 footnotes) are neither helpful (since no page numbers are given) 
nor necessary. The volume contains a few errata ("certain[ly]" [131]; German author and 
book title [133, n.4]; extra colon [136]; "dogs" are in "Philippi" not "Galatia" [161]; 
"would [have] remained" [261]; German titles [310, n.l7]). A scripture index would 
have increased the usefulness of the volume. Kent Yinger 

Bruce W. Winter, Philo and Paul among the Sophists, Cambridge: Cambridge 
University Press, 1997, 289 pp., $59.95. 

Winter uses first and early second century A.D. Greek, Jewish, and Chrisfian 
sources related to Alexandria and Corinth to establish the point that the Second 
Sophisfic did not begin in earnest in the second century A.D., but rather in the first 
century A.D. He then demonstrates that the sophistic movement provides a convincing 
background for 1 and 2 Corinthians, especially 1 Corinthians 1-4, 9, and 2 Corinthians 
10-13. 

Winter focuses Part 1 on evidence for the sophistic movement in Alexandria in the 
first century A.D. A first century student papyrus letter (P. Oxy. 2 1 90) reveals a demand 
in Alexandria for declamation taught by the sophists. Dio of Prusa (Or) describes 
sophists in first century Alexandria involved in public declamation and running schools. 
Philo (especially Contempl. 31) provides a critique of sophists and their educational 
system in first century Alexandria: 1 ) Whereas /?a/(ie/a was supposed to teach virtue, the 
sophists' lack of virtue promoted vice in their students; 2) rhetorical skills were not 
taught to present the truth through dialectic but rather to deceive; and 3) motivation was 

147 



Book Reviews 

financial gain and prestige rather than the welfare of the students. 

In Part II Winter's surveys all the evidence for the sophistic movement in Corinth 
in the first and early second century A.D., including Epictetus of Hierapolis in Phrygia, 
Dio of Prusa, Plutarch of Chaeronea, and Saul of Tarsus. Epictetus' anti-sophistic 
polemic (peri kallopismou) criticizes the sophists for emphasizing personal appearance 
rather than virtue, declaiming for show only rather than for teaching virtue, and pursuing 
praise. Dio of Prusa provides a critical picture of the intense rivalries and arrogance of 
the sophistic movement in Corinth in A.D. 89-96 {Or. 8). In his Corinthian oration {Or. 
37), Favorinus of Aries demonstrates how much he and other sophists were praised and 
admired in Corinth in the early second century A.D. Herodes Atticus, a student of 
Favorinus, was a respected sophist in Corinth as attested by accolades on a statue to his 
wife and Philostratus' account of Herodes' life. Plutarch of Chaeronea notes the 
ambition, greed, and rivalries of sophists in Corinth. 

Having established that sophists were prevalent in Corinth in the first century 
A.D., Winter explores Paul's relationship with the Corinthians in light of a sophistic 
background. From 1 Cor. 2: 1 -5 and I Corinthians 9 Winter argues that Paul adopted an 
anti-sophistic stance in his initial visit to Corinth in order to avoid being identified as 
a sophist in message or lifestyle. Unlike the sophists, he did not enter the city and 
establish his reputation as a speaker by an encomium to the city and a powerful 
declamation in hopes of garnering wealthy disciples. He preached by appeal to the 
power of God rather than conviction {pistis) derived from sophistic rhetorical 
techniques, and he worked hard with his hands to support himself rather than take 
support for instruction. However, the Corinthians adopted a sophistic conception of 
leadership and discipleship and suffered the inevitable rivalry entailed in such a 
conception. ApoUos' more sophistic approach to preaching caused some Corinthians to 
follow him as disciples of a sophist and reject Paul who purposely did not measure up 
as a sophist (I Cor. 1:10-12, 3:1-5; Acts 18:24-28). 

Winter rightly asserts that 1 Corinthians I -4 is not simply Paul's apologia for his 
ministry. Rather it is a critique of the Corinthians imposition of sophistic values and 
conceptions on church leadership and discipleship, particularly conceptions of status, 
imitation, and boasting. Paul challenges the Corinthians as disciples of the crucified 
Messiah to imitate his own imitation of the shame and suffering of Christ, not the 
mannerisms and rhetorical techniques of their sophists. 

Winter argues that between the writing of the Corinthian letters the Corinthians 
recruited itinerant Jewish-Christian teachers trained in the sophistic tradition to instruct 
them. These teachers used key rhetorical categories from Paul's own critique of the 
sophistic tradition in I Corinthians 1-4 and 9 to attack his deficiencies as an orator. 
From a theology of weakness based on the paradigm of Christ, Paul responds that the 
Corinthians sophists are ignorant and foolish because they engage in comparison and 
boasting in status and achievement at the expense of each other. Paul boasts in his 
failures and hardships in order to parody the boasting of the Corinthian sophists and 
indict them (2 Cor. 11:22-12:13). 

By demonstrating that the Second Sophistic was in bloom in Alexandria and 
Corinth in the first century A.D., Winter can show that the source of the division in 
Corinth was primarily sophistic, not theological or gnostic. He defeats the notion that 
the issues raised and the opponents faced by Paul are distinct in I Corinthians and in 2 

148 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

Corinthians. The book is a model of clarity and readability. It makes a contribution to 
the study of the Second Sophistic, and greatly clarifies the nature of Paul's opposition 
in Corinth and the peculiarities of his response. The book must be consulted for a 
complete understanding of the Corinthian letters. Duane F. Watson, Malone College 

James D. Miller, The Pastoral Letters As Composite Documents, Society for New 
Testament Studies Monograph Series 93, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
1997, hb., 214 pp. $54.95. 

Miller offers an insightfully sustained argument that the Pastorals were not written 
by Paul or by a talented pseudonymist. He explains why no single author could have 
written these documents and then suggests that the best solution to the many riddles 
present by the Pastoral documents is that they were "composite documents." The 
Pastorals were produced by a group of editors or school of scribes "charged with the 
preservation and circulation of Pauline teaching and traditions" (145). Thus, the 
Pastoral Epistles were composite works that incorporated genuine Pauline notes written 
to Timothy and Titus. However, meshed into these genuine, brief notes are "blocks of 
non-Pauline materials" that were editorially woven into the documents over an extended 
period of time (151, 158). Hence, Miller postulates a third option in attempting to 
resolve the internal literary difficulties of style, content and structure presented by these 
Epistles. 

In order to make his argument plausible. Miller reviews the authorship debate and 
shows how neither Paul nor a pseudonymist resolves the literary problems presented by 
these works. Then he offers some fresh insight into the literary environment from which 
the Pastorals emerged. This environment produced many "composite documents," 
within both Jewish and early Christian communities. The author presents a 
"compositional analysis" of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. The monograph ends by 
reiterating the main concerns. Miller's work is an important contribution to by 
reiterating the main concerns. Miller's work is an important contribution to Pastoral 
studies and the literary environment of the first and second centuries. 

If you are interested in exploring Miller's overarching concern of why these 
documents (the Pastorals) read the way they do, then you may find his argument a 
plausible solution. This is not a commentary, but instead a technical study concerning 
the composition of the Pastorals from a historical critical perspective. Ken Archer 

Andrew H. Trotter, Interpreting the Epistle to the Hebrews, Grand Rapids, MI: 
Baker, Books, 1997, 222 pp. 

This most recent addition to Baker's Guides to New Testament Exegesis series 
ably fulfills the stated goal of that series, namely to provide an introduction to 
appropriate methods of interpreting biblical representatives of a specific genre (in this 
case, Hebrews) based on, but pressing slightly beyond, Gordon Fee's outline in New 
Testament Exegesis (Louisville, KY: W/JKP, 1993). It attempts to provide neither a 
commentary on Hebrews, nor a survey of scholarship on Hebrews, but specifically an 
introduction to reading Hebrews. Part I, entitled "The Background of Hebrews," 



149 



Book Reviews 

contains discussions of the original audience, date, authorship, genre, structure, textual 
variants; Part 11, called "The Exegesis of Hebrews," moves into discussions of 
vocabulary, grammar, style, and theology. 

The greatest strengths of Trotter's volume are to be found in his chapter on the 
vocabulary of Hebrews, which begins with an important theoretical discussion on how 
to avoid fallacious word studies and how to arrive at more reliable insights from 
lexicography. This is followed by a solid discussion of the author's coined words. The 
second high water mark is the chapter on Style, which introduces the reader to a host of 
rhetorical "figures of diction" (e.g., alliteration, anaphora, hyperbaton) and provides 
examples of how these figures are used by the author of Hebrews. That chapter 
concludes with an incisive and appropriate critique of Nigel Turner's attempts to define 
Semitic style and to find Semitisms in Hebrews. Trotter's discussion of the methods of 
Scriptural interpretation employed by the author of Hebrews is also very well done, 
especially as Trotter goes on to consider the question of the validity of modem readers 
applying the same methods to the reading of the Old Testament. 

The book, however, is not without a number of problems as well, in terms both 
of omission and commission. As Trotter discusses the addressees and their situation, he 
makes the good point that the presence of so much material from the Old Testament 
cannot be used to demonstrate that the audience was predominantly Jewish since 
Gentiles, too, would have been familiar with the Septuagint. This is such a persistent 
misconception in treating Hebrews that Trotter would have done well to develop this 
point more fully, speaking specifically about how Gentile Christians would have been 
trained in their new faith chiefly on the basis of the Jewish Scriptures. More serious, 
however, are the difficulties in his attempts to delineate the audience as a particular 
sector of the Christian community which has itself split off from the larger group. 1 0:25 
is made to serve this delineation, although that verse is more naturally read not as an 
indication of where the audience is located with regard to the larger church but as an 
indication that there are believers who are not coming out to the assembly where the 
addressees are hearing this letter read. Trotter corroborates this with a questionable 
mirror-reading of 5:1 1-14, a passage which upbraids the addressees for still being in 
need of basic instruction when they should by now be teachers of the faith. Trotter 
reasons that this letter cannot address the whole congregation, for they could not all be 
expected to be teachers (the very act of teaching implies another group of those who are 
to be taught). Though generally attentive to rhetoric in principle. Trotter here misses the 
probability noted by many commentators that 5: 1 1 - 1 4 is an appeal to pathos, an attempt 
to rouse the hearers to acquit themselves by responding actively and decisively to the 
author's challenges. It is thus not an appropriate passage for direct mirror-reading into 
the situation and identity of the addressees. 

While much of Trotter's discussion of the genre of Hebrews is strong, the section 
which attempts to squeeze Hebrews into the genre of the diatribe is unsuccessful. This 
is because Trotter's definition of what marks diatribe is so wide and generalizaed as to 
become meaningless. He appears to make no differentiation between general "reasoning 
by question and answer," a very common rhetorical technique, and that raising of 
hypothetical objections in the form of questions and debating with an imaginary 
conversation partner which are peculiarly characteristic of the diatribe (as seen in 
Epictetus' Dissertations or in Paul's Letter to the Romans). Trotter's suggestion that Heb 

150 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

7:1 1 is such an objection is inaccurate. This verse does not offer an objection in the 
form of a question from an imaginary interlocutor (as does Romans 3:1, 3), but rather 
poses an argument in the form of a question in support of the author's thesis that 
perfection was not in fact possible through the mediation of the Levitical priesthood. 
That is, the author has already established the need for a new priesthood and draws a 
conclusion in Heb 7: 1 1 about the weakness of the Levitical priesthood in the form of a 
question. Trotter also points to the presence of arguments "from the lesser to the 
greater" in Hebrews (notably in the question of 10:26-29) as signs that Hebrews shares 
in the form of the diatribe, but again that sort of argument is so basic to both Greco- 
Roman and Jewish logic that it is equally at home in the forensic speech or rabbinic 
midrash. That 10:26-29 is posed as a question likewise points to common rhetorical 
strategies rather than specifically to one rhetorical form. 

Trotter provides a very handy table of textual variants, but the exegetical payoff 
is not consummate with the space it takes up. A few significant variants with more 
detailed discussion of those few variants (why one would favor one reading over 
another, what difference one reading really makes for the theological issues Trotter 
mentions too briefly) would have been more useful to students, who then could go to 
Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament and continue the work 
for themselves better equipped for the task. 

This reviewer is highly appreciative of Trotter's attempts to raise awareness of the 
usefulness of rhetorical analysis. 1 am left to wonder, however, why Trotter stops 
himself so short in this regard, preferring to dwell on rhetorical figures of diction (the 
ornamentation) rather than strategies of argumentation (e.g., discerning appeals to 
pathos, analyzing enthememes and other appeals to reason — the sorts of investigations 
of rhetoric which may really bear exegetical fruit). This is all the more surprising in that 
Trotter acknowledges that "the subject is so essential to understanding Hebrews" (p. 
165), which I take to apply to the larger picture of Greco-Roman argumentation and not 
merely to the figures of speech which even the rhetoricians relegate to the back of their 
textbooks (as in the Rhetorica ad Herennium). 

As an introduction to exegesis of Hebrews, the book basically persists in 
promoting a paradigm of interpretation which suggests that, if one concerns oneself with 
the words in the text long enough (vocabulary, grammar, style) and looks intently for the 
ideas contained in the text (theology), one will arrive at a sound interpretation of that 
text. It does not do enough to point the student to the world around the text ~ strategies 
of persuasion being employed by the author to effect a goal in the audience's setting, the 
social and cultural world of the audience, the conversations with other texts present in 
Hebrews, and so forth ~ wherein the text comes to life. Vernon Robbins has suggested 
that the exegetical enterprise, when done in its fullest scope, takes in the inner texture, 
intertexture, social and cultural texture, ideological texture, and sacred texture of a 
biblical text {Exploring the Texture of Texts [Valley Forge, PA: Trinity, 1996]; The 
Tapestry of Early Christian Discourse [London: Routledge, 1996]; see reviews in this 
issue): Trotter's volume proceeds as though inner and sacred texture were the main, and 
perhaps exclusive, areas of concern for the exegete. While, basically, he does very well 
with those two textures, I would urge the writer of a "guide to exegesis'" to push beyond 
the narrow paradigm of grammatico-historical exegesis to include some of the rich 
dimensions of reading Scripture described above. David A. deSilva 

151 



Book Reviews 

R. P. Martin and P. H. Davids, Editors. Dictionary of the Later New Testament and 
Its Developments, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997. 1289 pp. $39.99. 

This volume is the third in IVP's emerging 8-volume Dictionary of the Bible, a series 
begun with Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels and Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. 
The fourth, Dictionary of New Testament Backgrounds, is scheduled to appear in 2000, 
with four volumes on the Old Testament following. 

The DLNTD, as its name suggests, covers Acts (which was unable to fit either into 
"Jesus" or "Paul" volumes), and Hebrews through Revelation. Very wisely, the editors 
decided to extend this focus to include the writings of the apostolic fathers (Clement, 
Ignatius, Polycarp, Hernias, and others) and other early Christian literature (e.g., the 
Gospel of Peter). This becomes an important bridge volume, then, from "New 
Testament" history to "Church" history, an introduction not only to the New Testament 
but also the wider literary world of early Christianity. 

The volume contains over 230 articles, arranged alphabetically. As expected, 
there are "feature" articles on the texts themselves, most often provided by scholars who 
have already written respected commentaries on the text. The remainder of the entries 
are dedicated to issues of interpretation (e.g., "Old Testament in Revelation," "Jesus 
traditions,"), theological and cosmological concepts ("new birth," "eschatology," 
"repentance", "second repentance," "heaven, new heavens"), early Christian practice 
("baptism," "lord's supper," "worship and liturgy"), Christ ("exaltation/enthronement," 
"Christology"), social, cultural and political realities ("priest." "slave, slavery," "magic." 
"Greco-Roman religions," "purity and impurity." "Qumran"), literary genres 
("apocalypse," "letter, letter form") and many other topics ("Philo," "universalism," 
"ethics"). Most articles are arranged internally in terms of textual base, so that, for 
example, the article on "preexistence" first discusses the Hellenistic and Jewish 
backgrounds of the concept (giving many helpful references to primary sources), 
proceeds to discuss the appearances and significance of the topic in Hebrews, 1 Peter 
and Jude, the Johannine Epistles, Revelation, and finally the post-New Testament 
writings (Ignatius, Hermas, Justin, and 2 Clement). It is impossible in a review essay to 
give an adequate sense of the scope covered by this resource. 

In the tradition of its predecessors, the DLNTD continues to bring the best of 
scholarship to the pastor, lay person, and seminarian. Some of the most respected names 
in evangelical scholarship have contributed to this endeavor: R. J. Bauckham, Craig 
Evans, Joel Green, Donald Hagner. Craig Keener, William Lane, I. Howard Marshall, 
Leon Morris, Willard Swartley, and Ben Witherington, to name a few. Though written 
from an evangelical perspective, the volume is thoroughly conversant with scholars both 
left and right of center, introducing students to the breadth of academic conversation. 

Together with the first two volumes, the DLNTD forms a biblical reference work 
of the highest order. IVP is to be commended for its vision and for the excellence of 
these products; pastors and seminarians will be deeply enriched as they immerse 
themselves in the world this volume opens up so authoritatively and comprehensively. 

David A. deSilva 



152 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

Steve Gregg, ed., Revelation, Four Views: A Parallel Commentary, Nashville: 
Thomas Nelson, 1997, xv + 528 pp. $29.99. 

Rather than promote one particular way of reading Revelation, this volume seeks 
to expose readers to a variety of interpretations of Revelation held by sincere Christians 
across many centuries and denominations. Gregg came to the project out of his own 
experience of teaching Revelation over many years, during which time he came to 
appreciate the merits of a number of different views and arrived at the conviction that 
responsible teaching required him to present alternatives to his own view in an 
atmosphere that would foster mutual respect among Christians of different hermeneutical 
and millennial stripes, as it were. 

An introduction presents a number of critical issues concerning Revelation, 
among them the genre of the text, authorship, dating, and history of interpretation. This 
introduction concludes with an overview of the four approaches to Revelation treated 
in this book, namely the preterist (the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled, in the 
main, in the first centuries AD), historicist (the prophecies of Revelation have been in 
the process of fulfillment throughout church history), futurist (the prophecies await 
fulfillment in the future), and idealist (the prophecies look not for specific fulfillment in 
time but speak to the ongoing moral, political, and religious conflicts characterizing the 
Christian era). The first half of this introduction is marred by a lack of acquaintance 
with the critical scholarship of recent decades. For example, Gregg simply assumes and 
perpetuates the idea that 'Mike the other books of its genre [i.e., apocalyptic]. Revelation 
was written during a time of intense persecution of believers'''' (p. 1 0, emphasis original). 
J. J. Collins, A. Y. Collins, and L. L. Thompson, however, have all raised cogent 
objections to this portrayal of the setting of Revelation in particular and apocalypses in 
general (see 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, several strata of / Enoch, and the Apocalypse of 
Abraham). Revelation itself, if we are to take it seriously as "predictive prophecy" (p. 
2), sees "intense persecution" only in the future (and, one should add, only if the 
churches follow John's advice rather than the accommodationist gospel of other groups 
such as the Nicolaitans). The brief history of interpretation and the presentation of the 
four approaches selected for this book, however, are quite well done. 

The "commentary" follows, being organized in different ways for chapters 1-3, 
4-19, and 20-22. The bulk of the commentary provides, in four parallel columns, 
discussions of views representative of the four approaches listed above. One may thus 
see at a glance the interpretation of the beast from the sea (Rev 13:1-10) among 
preterists, historicists, futurists, and idealists and compare them across the page. 
Chapters 1-3 are treated in a single "column," as it were, with important differences 
among the four camps being discussed in sidebars. The discussion of chapter 20 shifts 
to three columns — the amillennialist, premillenialist. and postmillennialist 
interpretations — and chapters 21-22 return to an integrated presentation. However 
much he or she might desire it, the reader of this "commentary" should not look for 
evaluations of the respective positions or even of different views held by individual 
interpreters within the same camp, since this would defeat the author's purpose of 
presenting these different approaches in a non-evaluative environment. 

Gregg has thus provided a volume that is clearly more "open-minded" (p. 1 ) than 
most books on Revelation written from the perspective of "predictive prophecy" 

153 



Book Reviews 

overladen with commitments to particular doctrinal positions. It represents a very good 
first step in this direction and deserves to be commended for breaking through many 
narrow cinder blocks in the interpretation of this text that have been used to create walls 
of disrespect between sincere Christians. Nevertheless we can still hear the echoes 
created by these four voices as they resound off the ideological walls that contain them 
to the exclusion of other readings of Revelation. Here one arrives at a potentially 
troublesome drawback of the volume. 

The book gives the impression of comprehensiveness, but 1 have reservations 
about this impression. This perception is made even stronger by Robert Clouse's 
foreword and by the "advance praise" page, both of which indicate that one will find in 
this book "the four major ways to interpret the Book of Revelation" or "the four major 
approaches." There are, however, equally significant approaches to the interpretation 
of the Apocalypse that do not fall within one of these four categories. The attempt to 
label "liberal works" (Walvoord's tendentious label, quoted by Gregg) as a combinafion 
of "idealist and "preterist" (or late-date preterist) readings mistakes appearance for 
philosophy of approach. The work of L. L. Thompson, for example, does not share 
either the conviction of idealists or preterists; recent studies of visionary or apocalyptic 
rhetoric similarly operate from a fundamentally different model of reading an 
apocalypse, including Revelation. 

Gregg succeeds, then, in making "every effort to be fair," but only among those 
views that stem from the same basic approach to "biblical prophecy." That is, Gregg 
treats chiefly those views which regard Revelation purely as "predictive prophecy" and 
which insist that every prophecy be fulfilled at some point (or, in the case of the idealist 
interpretation, as a vision that articulates general and eternally-valid principles). The 
assumptions that "biblical prophecy" (as opposed to non-canonical texts) is "predictive 
prophecy," and that the only "true prophecy" is the one that is confirmed by the working 
out of history, manifest themselves in numerous ways. Based on these assumptions, 
Gregg distinguishes Revelation sharply from every other apocalypse, asserting without 
any defense that it "actually is what it claims to be: an epistle in the apocalyptic mode 
that predicts events of the future" (p. 12), while other apocalypses only pretend to do so 
by writing past history in a prophetic mode. Where all its literary characteristics point 
toward commonality between Revelation and other apocalypses, the author's assumption 
about Revelation overrides any commonalities and asserts dissimilarity. The author also 
proceeds as if views are only viable where the nature of Revelation as "predictive 
prophecy" looking ahead to real fulfillment in history is preserved. Thus he asserts that 
the preterist view can only be tenable if Revelation was written before 70 AD, that is, 
before the historical events to which preterists often link the "prophecies" of Revelafion. 

Most problematic is the way in which Gregg "inks "a high view of the inspiration 
of Scripture" (p. 38) with his own basic premise that Revelation constitutes predictive 
prophecy with historical fulfillment. An alternative approach, well-represented among 
biblical scholars, is seen as stemming from a low view of inspiration which shows "no 
respect whatever for the Apocalypse as an inspired writing" and in which "an 
interpretation that has been falsified by history" is not "on that account inadmissable" 
(p. 37, using a quotation from Albertus Pieters. The Lamb, the Woman, and the Dragon 
[Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1937] to make this contrast evident). This is ideologically 
motivated and tendentious, to say the least: evangelical Christian readers and students 

154 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

are, in effect, corralled toward agreeing with the author's basic premise out of a desire 
not to be associated with a "low view" of Scripture. The only refuge, in his model, for 
evangelicals with a high view of inspiration of Scripture is an idealist reading which, as 
already noted, is not truly the same as "higher-critical" readings. 

But Providence has provided in Jonah an important case study in the nature of 
biblical prophecy, since Nineveh does not in fact fall in forty days as Jonah "prophesied" 
quite unambiguously and absolutely. Early Jews, indeed, were well aware of this 
prophecy proving "false" from the standpoint of historical fulfillment (see Lives of the 
Prophets 10.2-3, in which Jonah leaves his homeland to avoid the taunts of being called 
a false prophet). Jonah's proclamation shows that God's purposes for a word sent by 
God (thus fully "inspired") may be different from our assumptions about those words. 
Prophecy, like any word from God, is sent forth to achieve God's purposes: "my word 
... shall accomplish that which 1 purpose, and succeed in the thing for which 1 sent it" 
(Is 55:1 1), and this purpose is clearly not always what it seems at face value. Jonah is 
a clear instance of "predictive prophecy" being spoken to effect a change of heart, 
proving true to God's purpose while proving untrue to rigid standards of historical 
fulfillment. It would not, therefore, be inconsistent with a high view of Scripture to read 
Revelation as a vision that seeks to effect a change of heart among Christians seeking 
roads to compromise and safety (as well as a confirmation of heart for those who seek 
to preserve their witness and obedience even in the face of mounting difficulties), and 
to see this as God's purpose for those visions rather than the supplying of a database 
from which future history (immediate, long-range, or distant future) should be read. In 
this regard, Gregg's otherwise "open-minded" book perpetuates unfortunate prejudices 
against evangelical readers of Revelation who do not share his basic assumption. 

To be fair to the author, Gregg does note in the introduction that he does not 
consider "dramatic" interpretations of Revelation, since these invariably pertain to 
structure rather than an actual approach to interpretation of meaning, and "literary- 
analytical" studies (p. 3). which center mainly on identifying the sources of Revelation's 
language or on developing theories of literary composition. This disclaimer, however, 
has the effect of lumping together all those scholars who do not hold to the view that 
Revelation articulates purely "predictive prophecy" that will find historical fulfillment 
as "literary-analytical," which reveals a very narrow exposure to the exegetical study of 
Revelation that has been emerging during the last two decades. This term, as Gregg 
describes it, fits the work of R. H. Charles or H. Gunkel perfectly, but does scant justice 
to scholars who approach Revelation from socioiogy-of-religion or sociology-of- 
knowledge perspectives, rhetorical-analytical approaches, or even those who read it as 
closer kin to other Jewish apocalypses than Gregg wishes to allow (see, for example, the 
work of J. J. Collins, A. Y. Collins, David Barr, or L. L. Thompson). 

In sum, then, Gregg's book is to be appreciated as a compendium of four kinds 
of interpretative approaches to Revelation, as long as it is understood that those four 
approaches are neither representative of the full spectrum even of evangelical 
scholarship, and certainly not of scholarship as a whole. It represents a very positive 
step forward from pushing one reading as "the" right one, and 1 admire Gregg's own 
testimony to personal growth in this area both personally and professionally as he 
teaches. Room must be made, however, for the theologically conservative who are, 
nevertheless, committed to a reading of Revelation informed by perspectives on 

155 



Book Reviews 

apocalyptic literature which distinguish it from "predictive prophecies" that are to be 
taken at face value. David A. deSilva 

John D. Currid, Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker Book 

House, 1997. 271 pp., pb, $21.99. 

James K. Hoffmeier, Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus 

Traditions. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Pres, 1997. xix+244 pp., hb, 

$35.00. 

A debate is raging among biblical scholars as to the historicity of Scripture. More 
foundationally, questions are raised concerning what constitutes evidence for 
reconstructing history. 'Minimalists' would hold that biblical accounts cannot be taken 
as true unless validated from extra-biblical sources. A more 'maximalist' position would 
hold that the Bible is to be valued as an important source for studying history, and is at 
times the sole source for some events mentioned in it. While outside validation or 
attestation would be useful, this view would hold that its lack should not throw 
uncorroborated statements concerning historical events into question, but should rather 
lead one to be thankful for the evidence which does exist in the Bible. 

Both Currid and Hoffmeier, who teach at Reformed Theological Seminary in 
Jackson, MS and at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, would find themselves 
methodologically more at home in the latter camp. Accepting the usefulness of Scripture 
as a historical source does not preclude bringing extra-biblical evidence to bear on its 
understanding and interpretation, and that is what these two authors do as regards 
evidence concerning Egypt. 

Currid, who provides the more popular level book of the two, follows the 
guidelines of his title by looking at Egypt as it impacts the entire canonical spectrum of 
the OT. After introductory chapters discussing matters of history and method, as well as 
ncient Near Eastern cosmologies in general, he looks at Egyptian cosmogonies in 
particular, as well as other pentateuchally related matters as Potiphar, the episode of the 
serpent (Exod 7) and the ten plagues, the Ten Commandments, the Exodus and the 
bronze serpent. Of relevance to the historical books are studies of Egyptian influence, 
mainly military, on the monarchy, with special emphasis on Shishak. Currid also looks 
at Egyptian wisdom and prophecy as compared to those genres in the Bible. 

With helpful illustrations, bibliography and detailed discussion, the general reader 
will find much of interest as well as challenge. It would serve as a good textbook in 
college and seminary, and should be on their library shelves. 

As Hoffmeier's title indicates, his is a more specialized and technical study, 
though still accessible to the committed lay reader. His main question regards the 
compatibility of the Egyptian evidence with the picture presented in Genesis 39-Exodus 
1 5, a question which he answers in the affirmative. His chapters include studies of recent 
scholarship on the early history of Israel, the debate bout Israelite origins, a study of 
Semites, Joseph and the Israelites in Egypt, Moses and the Exodus, the Eastern Frontier 
Canal and the implications which its identification and study have for determining the 
route of the Exodus, other related matters of geography and toponym (place names), and 
the problem of the Red/Reed Sea. In his conclusions, Hoffmeier states: "The body of 



156 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

evidence reviewed in this book provides indirect evidence which shows that the main 
points of the Israel in Egypt and exodus narratives are indeed plausible" (226). The 
search through this evidence leading toward this conclusion should fascinate readers of 
the book. Photographs and detailed footnote information will aid the scholar, while 
current interest in the subject by lay-people as well would suggest that this volume, as 
well as that by Currid, would find an eager readership in church libraries as well as more 
technical collections. David W. Baker 

Eric M. Meyers, editor in chief, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the 
Near East, 5 vols., New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, under the auspices 
of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 1997, C. 2,600 pp., $595.00. 

This massive work is a valuable resource, providing a survey of the field of Near 
Eastern archaeology at the dawn of the new millennium. The contributor list of twenty 
pages is evidence that the editors have drawn on the expertise of numerous authorities, 
listing those from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, 
Denmark. Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, 
Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, 
the United Arab Emirates, and the US. 

A helpful, one-page synoptic outline in the fifth volume shows the broader 
categories into which the entries fall, including: land and peoples- Syria-Palestine, 
Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Cyprus and the Aegean, Persia, Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, 
North Africa, Semitic East Africa, and Major Empires (ranging from the Hyksos to the 
Turkish caliphates); writing, language, texts- language families and languages, 
inscriptions and texts, writing and literacy, writing materials and technologies; material 
culture- subsistence, trade and society, built structures, artifacts and technologies; 
archaeological methods- types of archaeology, site typology, artifact analysis, dating 
techniques, provenience studies, field methods, allied sciences and disciplines (from 
paleozoology to computer mapping); and history of archaeology- theory and practice, 
narrative histories, organizations and institutions, and biographies. This is followed by 
an eight-page listing of individual articles under these major headings. This aid, along 
with the accompanying index, are vital for being able to find one's way through the great 
amount of material available. 

Individual articles generally include a bibliography. Which is at times extensive. 
For biographical entries, this includes a list of relevant publications of the one discussed. 
Some articles are accompanied by black and white photographs, figures of such things 
as script samples, tables, line drawings of reconstructions, and maps. A set of twelve 
maps is also included in an appendix, as are chronologies, one in tabular and one in 
time-line form, and a list of Egyptian Aramaic texts. The latter supplements an entry on 
the topic, but it is unfortunate that the same could not be done for other textual corpora. 

The articles themselves provide good entries into their subject. The nature of an 
encyclopedia precludes exhaustive treatments, but a fairly good cross-reference system, 
along with the accompanying bibliographies, allow those whose interest is piqued to 
pursue topics more fully. 

It is important to note the work's title. It is not a biblical dictionary, nor even one 



157 



Book Reviews 

of biblical lands, though discussion of these topics is included. There is no exhaustive, 
separate index of ancient texts, so tracing discussion of points of biblical interest can be 
somewhat serendipitous. There are also no separate entries for some archaeological 
items of more directly biblical interest. For example, there is no entry, nor even an index 
item, concerning the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, and the entry under 'Sinai' discusses 
occupation evidence there chronologically, but makes no mention of Israel, most 
probably due to lack of artifactual evidence of their passage, which receives so much 
attention in the biblical text. 

In light of these comments concerning the scope and interest of the work, students 
of the Bible will find material to pique their interest and help in their understanding. 
While not altogether sufficient to understand the Bible in its background, it is a 
necessary tool for this understanding, and should be in all serious academic libraries, at 
both religious and secular institutions. David W. Baker 

Mark W. Chavalas, ed., EMAR: The History, Religion, and Culture of a Syrian Town 
in the Late Bronze Age, Bethesda, Maryland: CDL Press, 1996, pp. xvii + 179. 

The volume edited by Mark W. Chavalas reunites several papers presented at the 
symposium on the Syrian Bronze Age site of Meskene held at the annual meeting of the 
American Oriental Society Middle West Region between 20-21 February, 1994, at 
Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, 1 1. 

The first paper, "Emar and Its Archives" (pp. 1-12), by Gary Beckman, analyzes 
Emar, a Syrian city under the Hittite dominafion, and its archives. The earliest reference 
to Emar dates to the 24th century B.C. (Ebla), and the 1 9th century B.C. (Mari). The 
Late Bronze city was occupied for 150 years until its destruction in 1 187 B.C. Except 
for an Old Babylonian document (Emar 6,536A all the Emar tablets date to the Late 
Bronze Age (14th- 12th centuries B.C.). Most of them were written in a Peripheral 
Akkadian dialect replete with West Semitic forms. A small number of documents were 
composed in Sumerian. Hittite, and Human. 

Wayne T. Pitard's "The Archaeology of Emar" (pp. 1 3-23) is an archaeological 
survey of the Late Bronze city of Emar. The excavations were done by a French team 
under the guidance of Jean Margueron between 1 972 and 1 976. Among the findings: the 
remains of a palace; a pair of temples dedicated to Astart and Baal, respectively; the 
Temple M, dedicated to an unidentified deity. '' NIN.URTA, and presided by the 
"diviner"; a number of private houses with a three-room ground floor. Whereas political 
and residential architecture shows a Hittite influence, the temples follow a Syrian style. 

The third contribution, "Who Was the King of the Hurrian Troops at the Siege of 
Emar?" (pp. 25-56), by Michael C. Astour, focuses on one episode in Emar's history. The 
author suggests that Emar 6, 42, "the king of the troops of Hum-land mistreated Emar," 
refers to the siege of Emar under Tukulti-Ninurta I who fought with Amuwandas III of 
Hatti in the thirties of the 1 3th century B.C. The king of the Hurrian troops who attacked 
2 Emar was Qibi-Assur, "vizier (and) king of Hanigalbat," at that time a Hurrian state 
under the Assyrian control. 

In "Family Values on the Middle Euphrates in the Thirteenth Century B.C.E. " 
(pp. 57-79), Gary Beckman discusses three types of Emar's records: adoptions, marriage 



158 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

arrangements, and testaments. The welter of detail in Beckman's contribution points to 
the preeminence of family life at Emar. Thus, the adoptions were adapted to include 
other aspects of social life (e.g., indebtedness, slavery), the marriages had an inter- family 
character, and the making of the testaments was concerned with the preservation of the 
family's wealth. 

Daniel Fleming, "The Emar Festivals: City Unity and Syrian Identity under Hittite 
Hegemony" (pp.8 1-1 21), discusses four types of festivals: the installation of the high 
priestess ''NIN.DINGIR {Emar 6, 369); the installation of the mas'artu-priestess (Emar 
6, 370); zukru (Emar 6,373) the only calendric festival; the kissu festivals (Emar 6, 385- 
388/ The Syrian identity, so obvious in Emar's festivals, was never stifled by the Hittites 
who promoted a religious tolerance in dealings with the defeated populations. 

"Care of the Dead at Emar" (pp. 1 23- 1 40), by Wayne T. Pitard, treats five of 
Emar's texts concerning the care of the dead and three legal documents from Nuzi. His 
analysis argues against identifying Hani, household deities/patron gods of the family. 
W\i\\etemmu"g\\osis" (Nuzi) or wa' J "dead" (Emar), based simply on the association of 
these terms. The evidence itself goes against the deification of the dead at Emar: none 
of the verbs (kunnu "to properly attend to"; nubbu "to xrw/okt"; pal ahu "to serve, honor") 
accompanying this pair have meanings exclusively or predominantly associated with the 
dead. 

"The Gods and the Dead of the Domestic Cult at Emar: A Reassessment" (pp. 141- 
163), by Brian B. Schmidt, is an assessment of the scholarship treating Emar's mortuary 
rituals. As does the foregoing paper, the author here deals with the same problem of the 
deification of the dead. The evidence from Nuzi and Emar rejects any equation between 
ilanu and wa'J(Emar) or etemmu (Nuzi). Moreover, the presence of kunnu "to invoke" 
points to a commemorative rite rather than to summoning the deified dead to a blessing 
apparition. An excursus on deification of the dead in ancient West Asia (Mesopotamia, 
Anatolia, Syria) wraps up this final contribution. 

The volume ends with a "Select Emar Bibliography" (pp. 1 65- 1 72) and an "Index" 
of personal names, toponyms/ gentilics, topics, and terms (pp. 173-179). 

Eugene Pentiuc, Holy Cross School of Theology, Brookline, MA 

Craig A. Evans & Stanley E. Porter, eds, New Testament Backgrounds: A Sheffield 
Reader, The Biblical Seminar 43, Sheffield: Academic Press, 1997, pp. 335, $19.95. 

This volume is the forty-third in the Biblical Seminar series. It collects what the 
editors believe to be the best articles on the topic of New Testament backgrounds 
published in the first 50 issues ( 1 91^-91)) of Journal for the Study of the New Testament 
(JSNT). 

The essays are: "Hostility to Wealth in Philo of Alexandria," by T. Ewald Schmidt 
(pp. 15-27); "The Paradox of Philo's View on Wealth," by David Mealand (pp. 28-32); 
"A Man Clothed in Linen: Daniel 10.5-9 and Jewish Angelology," by Christopher 
Rowland (pp. 33-45); "The Lamb of God in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs," 
by J.C. O'Neill (pp. 46-66); "The Apocalypses in the New Pseudepigrapha" by Richard 
Bauckham (pp. 67-88); "David Daube on the Eucharist and the Passover Seder," by 
Deborah Bleicher Carmichael (pp. 89-108); "The Sabbath in the Synoptic Gospels," by 



159 



Book Reviews 

Herold Weiss (pp. 109-23); "Popular Prophetic Movements at the Time of Jesus: Their 
Principal Features and Social Origins," by Richard A. Horsley (pp. 1 24-48); "Streams of 
Tradition Emerging from Isaiah 40. 1 -5 and their Adaptation in the New Testament," by 
Klyne R. Snodgrass (pp. 149-68); "Jesus as Mediator," by D.R. DeLacey (pp. 169-89); 
"Xdpiv avri xotpiTOc; (John 1.16): Grace and the Law in the Johannine Prologue," by 
Ruth B. Edwards (pp. 190-202); "The paoiAiKOC; in John 4.46-53," by A.H. Mead 
(pp.203-06); "Hellenistic Parallels to the Acts of the Apostles (2.1-47)," by Pieter W. 
van der Horst (pp.207- 19); "Hellenistic Parallels to Acts (Chapters 3 and 4)," by Pieter 
W. van der Horst (pp. 220-29); "Moses Typology and the Sectarian Nature of Early 
Christian Anti-Judaism: A Study of Acts 7," by T.L. Donaldson (pp. 230-52); "The God- 
Fearers: Some Neglected Features," by J. Andrew Overman (pp. 253-62); "Onesimus 
Fugitivus: A Defense of the Runaway Slave Hypothesis in Philemon," by John G. 
Nordling (pp. 263-83); "The Pragmatics of Politics and Pauline Epistolography: A Case 
Study of the Letter to Philemon," by Andrew Wilson (pp. 284-95): "and "Confluence in 
Early Christian and Gnostic Literature: The Descensus Christi ad Inferos (Acts of Pilate 
17-27)," by R. Joseph Hoffman (pp.296-31 1). The book closes with indexes of 
references and modem authors. 

The volume serves two purposes: ( 1 ) to assist scholars who wish to keep up on 
developments outside their area of specialist research or who have been away from a 
topic for a period of time and wish to re-enter the discussion; and (2) to serve as a 
textbook for undergraduates, seminarians, and even graduate students. 

Eric James Greaux, Sr., Shaw University Divinity School, Raleigh, North Carolina 

Carolyn Osiek and David L. Baich, Families in the New Testament World: 
Households and House Churches, The Family, Religion, and Culture. Louisville: 
Westminster/ John Knox Press, 1997, 329pp. 

This book is part of a series of books entitled The Family, Religion, and Culture. 
It seeks to provide comprehensive studies on the family in ancient Israel and early 
Christianity with the hope of bridging the gap to the American family of today. This 
particular book looks at the various NT teachings on the family in light of the social and 
cultural context of the Greco-Roman world. 

In Part one. Material and Social Environment of the Greco-Roman Household, 
the authors look at archaeology and describe the housing situation in such places as 
Ephesus, Palestine, Pompeii and Herculaneum. Cultural anthropology is addressed in 
chapter two in terms of the way people interacted with one another. Topics of honor and 
shame, gender, and kinship are briefly discussed. Chapter three addresses the social 
world of that time in terms of such things as gender roles and responsibilities, marriage, 
education, slavery, children, and family religion. 

Part two. Early Christian Families and House Churches, deals in more detail with 
topics such as social location, gender roles and marriage, education, slavery, and family 
life. Relevant NT texts as well as other types of literature pertaining to the subject 
matter are dealt with in a clear, readable fashion. Endnotes are provided in the back for 
those desiring to do further study. A glossary of basic terms is also provided. This book 
will be an excellent resource for students, pastors, or anyone interested in understanding 



160 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 
the world of the first century. Melissa Archer 

Peder Borgen and Seren Giversen, eds., The New Testament and Hellenistic 
Judaism, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997. (First printed by Aarhus University 
Press, Aarhus, Denmark, 1995) 

This is a collection of papers given at a conference at Aarhus, Denmark, in 1992. 
It was originally edited by Peder Borgen then completed by Soren Giversen. This 
volume demonstrates that the study of Hellenistic Judaism is now a mainstream 
approach to NT background studies. This is a remarkable feat for a discipline which 
hardly existed before this century. 

The opening papers are centered on Hellenistic Judaism. Giversen's contribution 
is a short but worthwhile examination of the covenant theme in Barnabas. The next 
paper by Lars Hartman would have been a better opening chapter because it provides a 
useful overview of the extent of Hellenistic Judaism. It also looks at the way the OT was 
used as a basis for ethics and teachings about eternal reward in Hellenistic Judaism. 
Nikolaus Walter then helps to put Hellenistic Judaism in a historical context by pointing 
out that Jews in Alexandria already demonstrated at least two centuries of Hellenistic 
education before the time of the NT, as seen in the production of the Septuagint and the 
Sibylline Oracles. He finds it ironic that much of this culture was valued and preserved 
only by Christendom. Marius de Jonge examines this Christian transmission, arguing 
that the Christian scribes probably were largely faithful to the original because they also 
succeeded in transmitting the Septuagint without changing it. 

Four Gospel studies follow. James H. Charlesworth looks at the healing of 
Bartimaeus and especially his appeal to the 'Son of David", which he says referred to the 
reputed powers of Solomon for healing and exorcism. Adela Yarbro Colins argues that 
the resurrection was an original part of the earliest Gospel traditions, pointing out that 
physical resurrection of a man who gained divine status was common in Hellenistic 
sources. Aage Pilgaad reexamines the pre-Christian concept of theios aner which 
Bultmann and others regarded as a model for the development of Christology. He 
doubts that this concept could have developed into Christology without the added 
concept of an eschatological Son of Man. Johannes Nissen finds Jewish and Hellenistic 
parallels for all aspects of the love command in the gospels. The only aspect which he 
finds unique is the context of these commands in a new community where the love 
command in the gospels. The only aspect which he finds unique is the context of these 
commands in a new community where the love command becomes practical. 

The volume ends with six Pauline studies. Peder Borgen finds it significant that 
Philo regarded Hagar as fieshly, and nowhere compares Hagar with the Sinai covenant. 
He concludes that Paul deliberately used this figure to suggest that the old covenant is 
like slavery to the fiesh. Karl Gustav Sandelin traces the sacramental language in I Cor. 
10 to the OT and Hellenistic Jewish literature. He suggests that it should be read as 
Paul's warning against participating in pagan practices. Per Jarle Bekken finds that the 
exegesis of Deut. 30:12-14 in Romans 10 follows accepted techniques and forms found 
in Philo and Baruch. Niels Hyldahl looks for the reason Paul wrote the Corinthian 
correspondence. He finds a crisis so serious that Paul would have had to expel a large 



161 



Book Reviews 

proportion of the church, if he visited in person, or else he would lose his authority 
completely. Niels Willert seeks the background of the so-called peristasis or hardship 
catalogues. Instead of the Hellenistic Jewish background suggested by Bultmann and 
the OT background suggested by others, he prefers to see the gospel passion traditions 
as the underlying model. Finally, Ole Davidsen looks at the Adam-Christ typology in 
a narrative study of Romans. 

This volume is a collection of disparate papers which provide a wide-ranging 
insight into how Hellenistic Jewish literature is being used to open up the New 
Testament. Some papers are tendentious and some may become seminal, and they are 
mostly good examples of how to read the New Testament in the context of one of the 
worlds it originally inhabited. David Instone Brewer, Tyndale House, Cambridge 

Roman Garrison, The Graeco-Roman Context of Early Christian Literature, Journn] 
for the Study of New Testament supplement series 137, Sheffield: Sheffield 
Academic Press, 1997, hb., 123 pp. $35.00. 

Garrison argues that the New Testament and early Christian literature must be 
understood in the context of the literary and cultural world of the Graeco-Roman era. 
In his collection of investigative essays he explores the same significant parallels found 
in Hellenistic literature and early Christian literature. Garrison's examination of selected 
literary works by early Christians like Paul, Luke, Polycarp and Clement demonstrates 
that these authors utilized important Hellenistic cultural concepts, themes, symbols and 
terminology. Thus, Hellenistic culture influenced and shaped their works. This is not 
intended to be an exhaustive study of the impact of the Graeco-Roman world upon early 
Christian literature, but it is a helpful introduction. Ken Archer 

Joan B. Taylor: The Immerser: John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism. 
Studying the HistoricalJesus. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997. Pp. xvi+360. ISBN 
0-8028-4236-4. $30 

Joan B. Taylor, lecturer in religious studies at Waikato University in New 
Zealand, here presents a competent and highly serviceable historical treatment of John 
the Baptist. At present, her book is probably the best work of its kind available in 
English. 

After a brief introduction to the biblical and extra-biblical sources, her treatment 
divides into six main chapters: (1) John's ascetic, quasi-Nazirite lifestyle and the 
question of his relationship with the Essenes (there was none); (2) his baptism as rooted 
in purity halakhah and conditional on prior repentance (rather than as a symbolic 
initiation rite); (3) his moral teachings and prophecies of imminent judgement by one 
who was to come; (4) his (predominantly positive) relationship with the Pharisees; (5) 
the nature of opposition to him and reasons for his execution (criticism of Antipas 
combined with the acquiescence of the Jerusalem establishment); and finally (6) his 
relationship with his disciple Jesus who continued his message (read 'against the grain' 
of what Taylor sees as the NT's defensive and apologetic treatment). The book ends 
with a useful and compact conclusion, a reasonable bibliography and indexes of names 



162 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

(very patchy), subjects and ancient sources. 

Taylor's volume, the second in a promising new series edited by Bruce Chilton 
and Craig Evans, is on the whole a refreshingly thorough and well-documented 
treatment of both primary and secondary literature, with excellent insights on subjects 
such as John's diet, dress, and views of purity. There is good critical interaction with 
important recent works like those of R.L. Webb, J. P. Meier and R.A. Horsley. Perhaps 
most innovative and interesting is her theory that Mark 9.1 1-13 shows Jesus to have 
interpreted John in the light of a "suffering Elijah' tradition, which he adapted after 
John's death to interpret his own ministry (e.g. pp. 286, 3 1 5). One may not in the end 
agree with this, or with her chronology of dating John's death to A.D. 33/34 (and the 
crucifixion correspondingly later). Nevertheless, the book offers plenty of good 
interaction with the primary sources on which an assessment of the author's theories will 
need to be based. 

Dr. Taylor is in general a reliable guide on this subject, although there are 
exceptions. Her grasp of the redaction history of Qumran documents struck this reader 
as wobbly (e.g. p. 28), her assertion of a dichotomy between inward and outward 
cleansing in IQS 3 (pp. 78-80) and John (p. 98) as forced, and her denial that "initial 
immersion' is 'initiatory' (p. 81) as reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. On a 
significant point of detail (p. 59), Taylor's discussion of purity also confuses the rabbinic 
halakhah of menstruation {niddah) with that of gonorrhea {zabim). Typographical errors 
are mercifully few, a rare merit nowadays. 

A certain "curate's egg' quality emerges in comparing some of the chapters, which 
show signs of having undergone quite different processes of composition. For example, 
the chapter on John's relationship with the Pharisees devotes a prolix 30 pages to a 
needlessly tedious discussion of the Pharisees. Chapter 2 on "Immersion and Purity', 
by contrast, stands head and shoulders above the rest as an incisive and informative 
treatment; the Preface makes it clear that this has had the benefit of extensive scholarly 
critique and discussion. 

Although at 360 pages this is not a slim treatment, greater conciseness on subjects 
such as the Pharisees might have left space for a welcome discussion of several other 
issues. These include the NT claims of John's priestly descent and family connections 
with Jesus, and also traditions of his possible links with Samaria, Galilee or the Golan 
(a little hastily despatched on p. 47 n.59 and p. 249 n.71). Similarly, readers will learn 
little or nothing from Dr. Taylor about the image of John in early Jewish Christianity, 
Gnostic and Mandaean groups; indeed she tends to underrate the Baptist's ongoing 
influence on various groups in the later first century, without which the implied polemic 
against his disciples in the Fourth Gospel (and Acts 19) is incomprehensible. 
Remarkably, the only insight offered on Jesus' baptismal vision of the Spirit 'as a dove' 
is the author's own experience of being once set upon in Jerusalem by a particularly 
feisty member of that species {sic, p. 274). Leaving aside the more mind-boggling 
implications of this anecdote, the admittedly difficult motif of the dove might, for 
example, have been usefully explored in Jewish allegorical treatments ranging from first- 
century texts like Ps.-Philo 39.5 and 4 Ezra 2.15; 5.26 to Septuagintal, Targumic and 
midrashic interpretations of the Psalms (e.g. 56.1; 68.13) and of the Song of Songs 
(2.14; 5.2; 6.9). 

Contrary to the editors' claim that this otherwise promising new series will 

163 



Book Reviews 

remedy the neglect of primary and secondary literature in some current treatments of 
Jesus, Dr. Taylor offers no history of research and shows only minimal interaction with 
the non-English works listed in the bibliography (as indeed a number of listed English 
works are never cited). And although by comparison with other early NT topics the 
pertinent secondary literature on John the Baptist is not vast, Taylor misses a significant 
number of continental treatments altogether (e.g. J. Danielou 1964, J. Ernst 1994, M. 
Reiser 1990 (E.T. 1997), H. Stegemann ^1994, A. Schlatter 1956, M. Stowasser 1992, 
W.G. Kummel 1974). 

Finally, students assigned this work as a textbook should nevertheless be 
encouraged to note a certain methodological naivete in the overall argument. Although 
Dr. Taylor strenuously (and, on the whole, successfully) pursues her project as a quest 
for 'the historical John the Baptist", she offers no hint of an acknowledgement that such 
a quest might be subject to some of the same hermeneutical vagaries that have long 
afflicted the study of historical Jesus. Simply to claim that one's aim is to rescue "the 
real John' (so e.g. p. 12) from under smothering layers of Christian propaganda must 
surely be either naive or devious. As it happens, the attentive reader cannot fail to notice 
from the outset Dr. Taylor's own driving assumption that the NT appropriation of John 
as a forerunner is seriously false and misguided: the evangelists' "defensive, apologetic 
tone' (p. 320) is intended only to "explain him away' (p. 4). 

At the end of the day, of course, neither the evangelists nor Dr. Taylor interpret 
the inevitable ambiguities of history without bias, sine ira et studio: the main difference 
between them is that the former openly acknowledge their presuppositions. It remains 
a fact that John the Baptist pointed forward to a decisive eschatological figure who was 
soon to follow him, and that the early followers of his disciple Jesus took his prophecy 
seriously. To say they misunderstood John (though acknowledging his doubts about 
Jesus, Matt. 1 1) is at once to say they misunderstood Jesus: for if John was not the 
forerunner, then neither was Jesus the One who was to come. To say the evangelists 
suppress John or explain him away is not only to trivialize the evangelists' complex 
picture of him, but also to make a nonsense of the ancient church's well-attested 
veneration of him in his own right. As is strikingly illustrated in Griinewald's Isenheim 
altarpiece and similar Christian paintings, the truth or falsehood of the apostolic view 
of John depends in the end on the truth or falsehood of the apostolic view of Jesus. 

Markus Bockmuehl, University of Cambridge 

Petr Pokorn'y, Jesus in the Eyes of His Followers: Newly Discovered Manuscripts 
and Old Christian Confessions, North Richland Hills, Texas: BIBAL Press, 1993, 
100 pp. + X. n.p. 

Professor of New Testament at Charles University in Prague, Petr Pokorn'y here 
sets out in sharp relief his recent study of Christology (see his The Genesis of 
Christology; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1987) in an evolutionary and developmental 
manner: after shaping the discussion in light of early Christian confessions (e.g., 1 Cor. 
15:3b-5 -which he calls the "Formula of Faith"), Pokorn'y analyzes Jesus' proclamation 
of the Kingdom, his status as a Prophet and his status as Messiah before moving on to 
see how Easter shaped by interpretation the original outlines of Jesus' mission and 



164 



Ashland Theological Journal 31(1 999) 

ministry. The task is noble though I am less than convinced that he has provided either 
broad outlines of a new view or a logically compelling case for the smaller points made. 
In addition, the book suffers from strikingly poor English and erratic spellings (e.g., 
pp.51 ["monofysitist"], 53 ["post-mortal" seems to be used for "post-mortem"], 54 
["substitutive" instead of "substitutionary"], 63 ["then" is used for "than"] and he likes 
the word "messianity"). 

After exegeting 1 Cor. 1 5:3b-5 responsibly, the author provides a brief summary 
of the history of research into the issue of the development of Christology in earliest 
Christianity. Oddly, he concludes with the literary approaches of A.N. Wilder and V.K. 
Robbins (whose lines of thinking he never again uses) and argues that this approach 
"strengthened confidence in the reliability of Jesus [sic] tradition and indirectly initiated 
a series of christological projects based on the teaching of earthly [sic ] Jesus and his 
activity, often called the 'Third Quest for Historical [sic] Jesus"' (p.21). To my 
knowledge, the literary approach has neither strengthened confidence in the historical 
reliability of the Jesus traditions (since it shows almost no interest in such a question) 
nor has it spawned the Third Quest, whose decisive impulses came from stubborn 
historical questions fashioned by such people as G.B. Caird and B.F. Meyer as well as 
the massive industry of investigating Judaism (which got its impulse from the pioneering 
work of W.D. Davies when he argued that Paul got his ideas from Judaism, not the 
Greco-Roman ideologies; see his Paul and Rabbinic Judaism). The method which he 
adopts, however, ante-dates the Third Quest and is nearly identical to the method of 
Norman Perrin. 

His analysis of Jesus is unexceptionable but generally accurate. But for some 
reason he nearly forgets the bases on which he constructs NT christology for as he 
proceeds through the various christologies of the NT he simply fails to make connections 
back to the Jesus traditions. For Pokom'y, Easter is the decisive impulse for the 
emergence of higher and more synthetic christologies; the previous christologies (e.g.. 
Wisdom, Son of Man) are taken up and lodged in a larger framework as a result of 
Easter. He shows some interesting connections with larger frameworks in his brief 
survey of titles but it is especially in his study of Paul and Mark that he shows the impact 
of Easter on creating a larger synthesis of christological categories. For example, 
Pokom'y shows how a "divine man" miracle christology was absorbed by Mark's post- 
Easter interpretation into a larger apocalyptic synthesis. Easter surely played the role 
Pokom'y envisions for the development of early Christian christology and the general 
method he employs, moving from Jesus to the later Christian theologians, surely 
deserves further implementation. Scot McKnight, North Park University 

Geoffrey Wainwright, For Our Salvation: Two Approaches to the Work of Christ., 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans/London: SPCK, 1997, 186 pp., $18.00, pb. 

Geoffrey Wainwright is a British Methodist theologian who has taught in the USA 
for many years. In this book he has brought together two series of lectures given at 
various institutions. The first set explores the different ways in which Jesus Christ 
comes to his people through the Word. Wainwright is interested in the uses of the 
different senses as means of communication, and he develops the ways in which touch, 



165 



Book Reviews 

taste and smell are used alongside listening and seeing. The result is an intriguing 
survey of the modes of apprehension of the revelation of Christ as they are found in 
Scripture and in the history of worship. The second set of lectures explores the concept 
of the threefold work of Christ as prophet, priest and king, examining the history of its 
usage and then analyzing each of its uses in five ways: christological, baptismal, 
soteriological, ministerial and ecclesiological. The freshness of the book lies in the 
breadth of knowledge of Christian theology and liturgy which is presented in a very 
readable and attractive manner. The author's style tends to be analysis and description 
of the material rather than argument. He writes as a Methodist, conscious of his 
heritage, but also as one who has learned from other traditions and is especially 
concerned for the ecumenical nature of the church. So he is able to show how the 
evangelical understanding of the gospel can profit from attention to the liturgy of the 
catholic tradition and thus be presented in a more comprehensive way. Methodist 
theology generally feels itself closer to Luther than to Calvin, and it is particularly good 
to see a Methodist here making good use of Calvin. Wainwright is concerned to see a 
Methodist here making good use of Calvin. Wainwright is concerned to see what he 
calls 'classic Christianity' thriving over against any liberal or modernist watering down 
of our Reformed and Catholic heritages. Here is an intriguing combination of these two 
elements by a master of historical theology. This is heart-warming reading. 

I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen 

N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996, xxi + 741 
pp., cloth, $65; paper, $41. 

This is a big book-in every way. It is very long (too long!) and yet on its own 
admission fails to get in everything the writer intended to say. it addresses a great 
theme, the message and aims of Jesus of Nazareth, and does so in a way that relates 
Jesus both to his Jewish roots and to the Christian movement that sprang from his life. 
Wright sees history writing as the search for a large hypothesis that seeks to answer the 
big questions, and whether or not you agree with him, you will surely agree that he has 
asked the right questions and made an inspiring attempt to answer them. He is also very 
readable, full of vivid phrases, suggestive metaphors and sharp asides, always accessible, 
so that it might fairly be said of him that his pen is like the tongue of a ready preacher! 
To change the picture, this book is a mighty symphony, magnificent in conception and 
gloriously full of singable tunes. 

The book is in three parts. The first addresses the question of whether the 
Question of the Historical Jesus is legitimate, possible, and how it should be pursued. 
Wright shows that orthodox Christianity has been better at answering the question. Why 
did Jesus die, than the question. Why did Jesus live? He gives an illuminating sketch 
of the Quest in this century, arguing that the choice is still between Wrede and his 
followers (we can know almost nothing about Jesus), and Schweitzer (Jesus is an 
apocalyptic Jewish prophet). Of the two, Wright opts firmly for the latter, with the 
important correction that apocalyptic does not refer to the End of the World, but to a 
coming national crisis of world-shattering magnitude. He argues persuasively that 
history cannot be done by searching for authentic sayings and counting beads, but by 



166 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 3 1 (1999) 

constructing hypotheses that will account for the facts of history as we have them, and 
answer five key questions: How does Jesus fit into Judaism as we know it from the 
ancient sources? What were Jesus' aims? Why did Jesus die? How and why did the 
early Church begin? And, Why are the Gospels what they are? 

The second part, entitled the Profile of a Prophet, shows that Jesus makes sense 
within first century Judaism not as a teacher of subversive wisdom but as a prophet, in 
the line of Israel's prophets, announcing the imminent fulfilment of Israel's deepest 
longings - the return from exile, the defeat of evil and the return of YHWH to Zion - 
inviting and welcoming his fellow Israelites to share in the coming kingdom, but also 
challenging and summoning them to turn from the false road of violent nationalism and 
join him in a new way of being Israel. Like Isaiah, he announced the end of exile and 
the return of the King; like Jeremiah, he warned that armed resistance was no way to 
bring in God's reign and would lead instead to the destruction of Jerusalem. The 
repentance Jesus spoke of was thus a change of political outlook behavior, and the 
forgiveness he offered was national liberation and the rebirth of Israel to be the light of 
the world. 

The third part addresses the Aims and Beliefs of Jesus - if that was his message, 
how did he think the kingdom would come, and what was his own part in bringing it 
about? Jesus saw himself as the Messiah, the king who represented and embodied his 
people, whose destiny it was to fight the battle against the forces of evil and set his 
people free, but he differed fundamentally from his contemporaries in how he saw this 
battle was to be fought. Rather than raising an army and driving the Romans out of the 
country, he saw it as his calling to draw down on himself the judgement of God which 
the Roman armies represented and to die on behalf of the nation. Only so could the 
Satan be defeated, only so could Israel become what she was meant to be, and only in 
this way would the ancient hope of YHWH returning to Zion be fulfilled. What is 
impressive is the way Wright has been able to bring together two things usually put 
asunder, Jesus' nonviolent stance and his vicarious death. Jesus is neither the Savior of 
the World who happened to be a pacifist, nor the teacher of an exalted Ethic who 
happened to get killed, but someone whose rejection of violence was the cause of his 
death and means of his Atonement. 

But what difference did it all make? Jesus died. Caiaphas and Pilate and their 
successors lived and reigned, and in the end the city was destroyed anyway. Wright has 
run out of space! He sketches an answer to this question in five pages, but it is hardly 
satisfactory. His answer, of course, focuses on the Resurrection, but it seems to me a 
serious weakness in the book that this vital topic has to be left for another volume. 
Wright carries me with him all the way until he starts talking about the 'Return of the 
Lord to Zion'. which he apparently identifies with the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem. 
But surely this can only be so if the Resurrection is included as well as the Cross? 
Surely then, and then only, is the kingdom seen to have come in power? Surely the 
Cross is no victory without the Resurrection and all that flowed from it? 

In short this is a great book, full of insights and ideas that there is no space to do 
justice to in a brief review, but in the end the subject matter defeats the author's attempt 
to deal with it in one volume. There was perhaps an alternative strategy. At the risk of 
sounding like a music critic telling Beethoven that the Ninth Symphony is a magnificent 
work, but we could do without all that singing at the end, I suggest Wright would have 

167 



Book Reviews 

done better to write one book on the Prophet and his Message containing Parts 1 and 2 
(474 pages, no mean feat in itself), and write another on the Aims and Achievement of 
Jesus to include the present Part 3 and that book which, like its subject matter, the 
Resurrection, we eagerly await. R. Alastair Campbell, Spurgeon's College, London 

J. H. Charlesworth, ed., The Dead Sea Scrolls: Rule of the Community. 
Photographic Multi-Language Edition, New York: Continuun, 1996, 148 pp. 
$100.00. 

The Rule of the Community (IQS) was one of the first four Dead Sea Scrolls to 
be discovered in 1 947. As a text originally composed by the Qumran community (rather 
than a biblical text or a writing known from outside the community), the Rule gives us 
precious, firsthand information about the religious and social ethos of the sect, as well 
as a window into the process for joining oneself to the sect and the rules by which the 
community life was governed. From this text we learn of the community's strict 
dualism, and its central desire to live as "sons of lighf [sic] separated from a world 
populated by the "children of darkness." We encounter a community that is at once 
intensely devoted to the correct observance of Torah in all its details and magnificently 
aware of God's grace and mercy as the foundation for righteousness: "The perfection of 
my way and the uprightness of my heart is in his hand. He shall blot out my 
transgressions by his righteousness.... My justice is from the fountain of his 
righteousness." This hymn at the end of the Rule breaks all stereotypes of Judaism as 
a religion of "works" in opposition to "grace." IQS resonates in important ways with 
the New Testament, from the dualism of the Johannine literature to Paul's understanding 
of God's mercy as the foundation for our righteousness. 

This beautiful edition opens with an accessible and lucid introduction by 
Charlesworth, beautifully illustrated with full-page photographs of the Qumran site and 
the caves where the scrolls were found. Charlesworth discusses the discovery and 
contents of the scrolls, the community that wrote and preserved them, and their 
significance for our understanding of early Judaism and the birth of the church, closing 
with an outline of the Rule. Following this brief introduction are clearly legible 
photographical plates of each of the eleven columns of IQS with facing page 
transcriptions with critical apparatus comparing the text of IQS with the six copies (and 
fragments) of the Rule found in cave 4. These plates are the chief selling point of the 
volume, for it is as close to examining the Rule itself as most students of Qumran are 
likely to come. Following the plates are translations by leading Dead Sea Scrolls 
scholars in English (J. H. Charlesworth), Modem Hebrew (E. Qimron), French (J. 
Duhaime), Italian (P. Sacchi), German (H. Lichtenberger). and Spanish (F. Garcia 
Martinez). A centerfold of the complete Rule of the Community completes this ultimate 
coffee table edition of an ancient Jewish text. Readers interested in gaining a deeper 
understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the beliefs and life of the Qumran community, 
and the significance of these texts for our understanding of early Judaism and Christians 
would be advised to turn first to the incomparably more comprehensive and affordable 
books by G. Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (New York: Penguin, 
1 997), and J. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 



168 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

1994). For those who are pursuing advanced studies in IQS itself, or who just enjoy 
beautiful reproductions of ancient works, the present volume will be an indispensable 
and enjoyable aid. David deSilva 

Robert Hetzron, ed., The Semitic Languages, London/New York: Routledge, 1997. 
XX + 572 pp., hb., $200.00. 

Edward Lipinski, Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar 
(Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 80), Leuven: Peeters, 1997, 754 pp., hb. 

Both of these volumes are very important introductions to the Semitic language 
family, of which the Hebrew and Aramaic of the Bible are a part. Unfortunately, their 
price will undoubtedly limit them to academic library collections. Each does an 
admirably job in presenting the languages involved, even though they approach the task 
from differing perspectives. 

Hetzron. retired from the University of California at Santa Barbara, has assembled 
an outstanding team of twenty-three scholars from around the world, most of whom are 
well-known in their work in the language which they present. Each individual language 
(Old- Akkadian, Amorite and Eblaite, Aramaic, Ugaritic, Ancient Hebrew. Phoenician 
and the eastern Canaanite languages, classical Arabic, Sayhadic [Epigraphic South 
Arabic], and Ge'ez; Modem- Arabic dialects and Maltese, Modem Hebrew, Neo- 
Aramaic, modem South Arabian, Tigrinya, Tigre. Amharic and Argobba, Harari, Silte 
[East Gurage], and Outer South Ethiopic) is covered by a chapter of up to 3 1 pages. 
These are preceded by discussions of the family sub-groupings within Semitic, the 
various writing systems, and the grammatical traditions of Arabic and Hebrew. 

Each language is presented as regards its phonetics (the sound system), 
morphology(word form), and syntax (word order and interrelationships). Brief 
bibliographies for those interested in doing further exploration are provided. Languages 
are presented in transcription, which is useful since few would be expected to have a 
mastery of the multiplicity of scripts represented. This makes the volume more 
accessible, though one would have to be a fairly committed student to be able to wend 
through the entire volume. It does present a useful and readable, though of necessity 
brief, introduction to each language. 

Lipinski has a different goal in mind, as is reflected by his subtitle. He sets out, 
as stated in the introduction, to provide 'primarily an introductory work, directed 
towards an audience consisting, on the one hand, of students of one or several Semitic 
languages, and, on the other, of students of linguistics. Its aim is to underline the 
common characteristics and trends of the languages and dialects that compose the 
Semitic language "family" by applying the comparative method of historical linguistics' 
(pp. 17-18). 

The introductory section defines the Semitic languages, and places them within 
the context of Afro-Asiatic languages. He briefly discusses proto-Semitic and the various 
North (Ugritic, Paleosyria, Amorite), East (Akkadian), West (Canaanite, Aramaic, 
Arabic), and South (South Arabian, Ethiopic) Semitic languages and their scripts. 
Lipinski then does a detailed comparative analysis of the language family members as 
regards phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. For those not familiar with 



169 



Book Reviews 

linguistics, he provides a useful glossary of technical terminology from that field. There 
is also general index of over 40 pages, and an additional index of words and forms for 
each language, which could serve as a mini-dictionary. 

The book itself is a tour-de-force , the result of decades of dedication to a wide 
range of languages, the likes of which would be hard to match for any other individual 
scholar today. Lipinski does not claim equal expertise in all of the languages discussed, 
but acknowledges gratitude to a number of leading scholars whom he has consulted, 
their works being listed in a 45 page bibliography. The volume will be the standard for 
years to come, and will be a model for future research in the field and a resource for all 
interested in the topic. It should be added to every specialist Semitics library, and should 
also be on the shelves of the better seminaries. The publishers and contributors of both 
works are to be thanked for their important and exemplary work. David W. Baker 

John Huehnergard,/! Grammar of Akkadian, Harvard Semitic Museum Studies 45; 
Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997. xl + 647 pp., cloth, $44.95. 

idem. Key to A Grammar of Akkadian, Harvard Semitic Museum Studies 46; 
Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997. vili + 137 pp., cloth, $24.95. 

Akkadian is the Semitic language used in Mesopotamia from the early third 
millennium BC until after the time of Christ. It is the earliest Semitic language attested 
to date. Israel and its ancestors had much to do with speakers of this language. This 
ranged from Abram's departure with his family from Ur, where it would have been used, 
to Israel's return to the area against her will at the time of her exile to Assyria (722 BC) 
and Babylonia (586 BC). Akkadian was used to record numerous religious, economic 
and historical texts which cast helpful light on the events, culture, and beliefs of Israel 
and her neighbors. Adding to the importance of the language is the number of texts in 
Akkadian which have been preserved. Written mainly on clay tablets which, when 
baked, becomes much more permanent than papyrus or parchment, the amount of written 
material in Akkadian greatly exceeds that from the same period in Hebrew. Finally, on 
the linguistic level, Akkadian is a sister language to Hebrew and Aramaic, and an 
understanding of its grammar and vocabulary greatly assists our appreciation of these 
two biblical tongues. 

John Huehnergard, professor at Harvard University, is to be thanked for providing 
for us the most thorough introduction to Akkadian in any language. He uses an 
deductive pedagogical approach, overtly modeling his grammar on those of Thomas 
Lambdin for Hebrew, Ethiopic and Coptic. Chapters, of which there are thirty eight, 
present the grammatical rules of concern with detailed discussion and paradigms. The 
Akkadian is presented in transliteration into English letters. Chapters conclude with 
exercises including vocabulary, assignments, and translation from and into Akkadian. 

In lesson 9, the Akkadian writing system is introduced, and from then on signs are 
added to the vocabulary for memorization. They are given in Old Babylonian lapidary 
(monumental script carved in stone) and cursive scripts (used on clay), as well as the 
more common, and simpler, Neo-Assyrian forms. Exercise in transliteration and 
translation of these are also included. The correct answers are provided in the 
supplementary Key . 



170 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

The chapters are followed by a supplementary reading selection from the Old 
Babylonian version of the Gilgamesh Epic in transliteration. A 45-page glossary of all 
Akkadian words encountered in the book is a boon, since there is no handy, one-volume 
dictionary for Akkadian. A list of Sumerian logograms and their Akkadian equivalents 
is also provided, as is an English-Akkadian word list. Five appendices cover dating 
systems, weights and measures, the historical development of Akkadian phonology, and 
the literary Standard Babylonian dialect and Assyrian, with their divergences from the 
Akkadian taught in the volume. The volume also includes with 3 1 paradigms, each with 
cross references to the places where they are discussed in the book itself: 3 for pronouns, 
4 for nouns and adjectives, and the rest for verbs. It concludes with indexes of the 
various texts reproduced in the volume and of grammatical forms and subjects. 

The volume, and the key, look like they would be suitable for self study, since the 
explanations are quite detailed, although classroom instruction and interaction. After 
successfully completing the volume, one would be very well prepared to read texts from 
numerous periods in various literary genres. I just wish the volumes were available when 
I studied Akkadian. They should be in all academic biblical studies libraries, and 
budding Hebrew students would be well rewarded by working through them. 

David W. Baker 

Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament, 
translated by Mark E. Biddle, 3 vol., Peabody, MA: Hendrlckson, 1997, 1638 pp., 
$119.95. 

This useful reference work is a translation of the Theologisches Handworterbuch 
zum Alien Testament, which was originally published in 1971. The conciseness of the 
entries and the scholarship of the contributors made the original a helpful resource 
indeed, and the content of entries has been translated without major alteration, apart 
from some updating of editions and translations referred to. A new key has been added 
to the start of each entry which cross-refers to discussions in BDB, TDOT by Botterweck 
and Ringgren, Koehler and Baumgartner's Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old 
Testament, Van Gemeren's New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology 
and Exegesis (NIDOTTE), Harris et al.. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 
and Strong's concordance numbers. Also added was a concordance of places where the 
Masoretic Text verse numbers, which are used in this work, diverge from those of 
English translations. 

Each entry consists of five elements: a discussion of the root and its use in other 
Semitic languages, statistical data on the use of the root and its forms (supplemented by 
an appendix with tables of most frequent Hebrew words, most common verbs, total word 
counts for each OT book, and other interesting information), the general meaning of the 
root in Hebrew, its theological significance, and comments on its subsequent usage in 
early Judaism and in the New Testament. The work itself concludes with indexes of 
Hebrew and Aramaic words (one in Hebrew characters and a second in transliteration), 
English glosses, modem authors, and a lengthy one ( 1 30 pages) of Scripture references. 

There are less entries than the more recent NIDOTTE, but they at times greatly 
outshine them in length. For example, the entry on "name' ( sham ) covers nineteen pages 
in TLOT but only five in NIDOTTE. It would not be redundant to have both works in 

171 



Book Reviews 

one's library. TLOT" would indicate the understanding of main-line biblical scholars, 
mainly from Europe, and provides useful information such as distribution statistics 
which NIDOTTE does not provide. The latter presents generally a more conservative 
perspective which is more up-to-date. All academic biblical studies libraries should have 
both sets, and serious OT students will find themselves delving into both. 

David W. Baker 

Willem A. Van Gemeren, ed.. New International Dictionary of Old Testament 
Theology & Exegesis, 5 vol., Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997, 5965 pp., $199.00. 

This mammoth undertaking will greatly repay all who delve into its riches. Thanks 
must be expressed to the thirteen editors, over two hundred authors, and the publishers 
for the vision and execution of this project. It joins the previously published New 
International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, edited by Colin Brown and 
published in 1975. While the latter has been gainfully used for almost a quarter centur>', 
the editors have built on its format, keeping its helpful features while making the present 
volumes even more user-friendly. 

Readers will find NfDOTTE consists of at least three different reference tools. The 
first is a book-length (2 1 8 page) "Guide to Old Testament Theology and Exegesis." This 
starts with an introduction (Van Gemeren) to the methodology and layout of the project. 
This must be read to bets utilize the material which follows in the dictionary proper. 
Then come the following: Introduction- Hermeneutics, Text and Biblical Theology, 1- 
"Language, Literature, Hermeneutics and Biblical Theology: What's Theological About 
a Theological Dictionary? (K. Vanhoozer); Part I- The Reliability of the Old Testament 
Text, 2- "Textual Criticism of the Old Testament and its relation to Exegesis and 
Theology" (Bruce Waltke); Part II- History, Theology and Hermeneutics, 3- "Old 
Testament History: A Theological Perspective" (Eugene Merrill). 4- "Old Testament 
History: A Hermeneutical perspective" (V. Philips Long); Part III- Literature, 
Interpretation, and Theology, 5- "Literary Approaches and Interpretation" (Tremper 
Longman III); 6- "Narrative Criticism: The Theological Implications of narrative 
Techniques" (Philip Satterthwaite); Part IV- Semantics, Interpretation, and Theology, 
7- "Linguistics, meaning. Semantics, and Discourse Analysis" (Peter Cotterell); 8- 
"Principles of Productive Word Study" (John Walton); Part V- Canon. Literature, 
Interpretation, and Biblical Theology. 9- "The Flowering and Floundering of Old 
Testament Theology" (Elmer martens); 10- "Integrating Old Testament Theology and 
Exegesis: Literary, Thematic, and Canonical Issues" (Richard Schultz); Conclusion, 1 1- 
"Several Illustrations on Integrating of the GUIDE with NIDOTTE in Doing Old 
Testament Exegesis and Theology" (Van Gemeren). Each of these most useful 
introductions conclude with very helpful bibliographies. These chapters alone could 
serve as a textbook for a course in exegesis or hermeneutics. The last chapter in 
particular will repay study by those who want to use this work most effectively. 

The next major section, stretching from mid-volume 1 through mid-volume 4, 
contains lexical articles discussing individual Hebrew words, arranged according to the 
Hebrew alphabet. These are similar in format to their NT counterparts. Each entry has 
the lexeme with a number taken from Goodrick-Kohlenberger's numbering system. 



172 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

which is more complete and up-to-date than that of Strong. There are also brief 
definitions of the lexical forms. Following are a discussion of linguistic cognates in 
ancient Near Eastern languages, the meaning and use in the Old Testament and in post- 
biblical literature. The lexeme is then placed in one or more relevant semantic fields, 
which will help find other words that can help in understanding the words usage, with 
cross-references made to other related entries. A bibliography also accompanies each 
entry. Due to the layout of this section, some Hebrew knowledge is useftil. 

The third major section is a topical index of almost 1 ,000 pages. Here entries are 
listed according to the English alphabet. There are discussions of proper nouns, concepts 
such as adoption and idolatry, as well as presentations of the theology of individual OT 
books. Extensive cross-references back to the previous section make this a more suitable 
entry point for those whose Hebrew is lacking. 

The fifth, index volume, is a treasure trove in itself. It begins with an alphabetical 
index of Semantic Fields," collecting all of these together into one place, providing 
another useful avenue for entering into theological analysis of the OT. It is made more 
usable by an eight page set of directions. An index of Hebrew words and phrases which 
are discussed follows, with the Hebrew appearing in transliteration as an aid for non- 
Hebraists. Scripture and subject indexes follow, and the volume concludes with tables 
fro converting Strong's numbers to those of Goodrick-Kohlenberger. and vice versa. 

While one must be aware of what can and cannot be done through theological 
word studies (see James Barr, The Semantics of Biblical language, 1961 ), readers will 
greatly benefit from the judicious use of this work. For the NT. I find myself turning 
more frequently to NIDNTT than to Kittel's longer TDNT, and I imagine the same will 
apply here in reference to Botterweck and Ringgren's TDOT. All readers of this review 
should look at what the project has to offer, and serious students should plan on 
purchasing it. either from Zondervan or in elctronic format through Logos Research 
Systems, for which 1 can supply information (e-mail: dbaker@ashland.edu; 419-289- 
5177). David W.Baker 

Gregory A. Boyd, God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict, Downers Grove, 
Illinois: 1997, 414 pp., pb, $19.95. 

This book is not for those seeking an easy, "how-to" approach to spiritual warfare. 

It is for anyone who desires an in-depth, scholarly, biblical study of evil and the place 

of a warfare world view in scriptures. 

"The central thesis of this work is that this warfare world view is in one 
form or another the basic world view of biblical authors, both in the Old 
Testament and even more so in the New. This is not to suggest that the 
biblical authors . . . deny that evil is also a reality of the human heart and 
human society. To the contrary, biblical authors consistently demonstrated 
a passionate concern for confronting evil in all the individual and societal 
forms it takes" (p. 13). 
The author believes that the presence of evil and spiritual warfare was not 

something that early Christians simply contemplated intellectually. It was a reality of 

life that they actively confronted each day. The difference between the view expressed 



173 



Book Reviews 

in scripture and the view often expresses today is a matter of where one starts. 
". . . do we start with a view of God as being at war with evil or with a 
view of God as controlling evil? ... the central thrust of this work has been 
to argue that if we model our approach to the problem of evil after the New 
Testament, we must in every instance opt for the former, not the latter, 
starting poinf (p. 29 1 ). 

Boyd confronts the classical-philosophical theology held by many in modern 
Western Christian circles. He does so, not with lofty philosophical arguments, but by 
holding up the real face of evil expressed in the story of one little Jewish girl and her 
mother living in the Warsaw ghetto during Nazi occupation. Having thus raised our 
consciousness, the author methodically presents the biblical approach to evil and 
warfare. 

Part One of the book systematically examines "The Warfare World View of the 
Old Testament" in 167 pages. Part Two analyzes in depth "The Warfare World View 
of the New Testament" in 1 24 pages. The author then includes 1 1 pages of extensive 
notes, reflecting his goal to write the book at two levels. In the body of the text, the 
author presents a solid exposition of the subject for the general reader. He attempts to 
satisfy the needs of the scholar through his comprehensive notes. 

This is not a book one breezes through in one reading. It is a book that one settles 
down with for a while to soaks in the depth of research and wealth of insight, and it is 
worth the time. 

Gregory A. Boyd is a professor of theology at Bethel College and a preaching 
pastor at Woodland Hills Church in St. Palls, Minnesota. He has also written Cynic, 
Sage or Son of God? and Recovering the Real Jesus in an Age of Revisionist Replies. 
Boyd is working on a sequel to God at War titled, Satan and the Problem of Evil. 

Walter Kime 

Kevin Giles, What On Earth is the Church? An Exploration in New Testament 
Theology, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995, 243 pp., $16.99. 

In a vast world where Christians are living on every continent and claim 
membership to many different denominations, we remain uncertain as to the meaning 
of "the church." In this enlightening book Giles offers the Trinity as an analogical 
model to define the church as it should exist today. 

Kevin Giles, an Anglican minister and theological consultant for World Vision 
Australia, offers several reasons for writing such a book. Protestant scholarship recently 
has not produced detailed studies on ecclesiology of the caliber that Roman Catholics 
have achieved. In addition, he wishes to challenge the modem individualism that is so 
prevalent in the western church. 

The author approaches this study from two directions. The first seven chapters 
deal directly with scriptural analysis: the teachings in the four Gospels, and the apostolic 
theology in the book of Acts, the epistles of Paul, the non-Pauline epistles, and 
Revelation. It is in these chapters that Giles asks the questions: What did Jesus intend 
by calling the disciples, and did Jesus found or institute the church? Answering these 
questions takes up more than two-thirds of the book. 



174 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

In the final three chapters the author moves toward a systematic theology. He 
discusses the ecumenical movement and the change that has taken place in its view of 
"the church." He challenges both the conservative evangelical and the liberal views of 
the church and provides an alternative ecclesiology based upon the Trinity. 

Giles suggests that finding a working definition for the church by merely 
translating the word '^ecclesia'' is impossible. Therefore, he sets out to look at the many 
names that scripture has ascribed to the church. This provides a complete portrait of the 
church as seen in the New Testament. 

One main problem to which Giles continues to return is the presupposed 
individualism that permeates modem thought. He asserts that the idea of autonomous 
congregations and even individuals scattered throughout the world is a concept foreign 
to Scripture. Scripture sees the church in three ways: the universal community, the local 
community, and the individual congregation. However, he suggests that congregations 
are never autonomous; there is always a sense in the New Testament of being a part of 
a larger body. 

Giles also critiques static concepts of the church. He says, "Besides confirming 
the basic premise on which the study commenced, we discovered not a community 
established and defined once for all, but a community in transition" (pp.182). He 
suggests that the church needs a provisional ecclesiology that allows change to take 
place as it continues to develop on earth. 

Giles finds the following characteristics to be basic to a correct definition of the 
church: community, unity, diversity, and changes that continually occur. He claims that 
divisions in the church are present with us only until the communal life of Christians is 
revealed on the last day. 

He also offers an interesting basis for our ecclesiology. Rather than base it upon 
scripture alone or upon tradition, he suggests that we build our ecclesiology upon the 
triune nature of God. Along with this model the author gives four distinct aspects that 
should describe the church: communal, ecumenical, egalitarian, and non-sexist. This 
final chapter gives us a practical view of how the church could be realized on earth. 

Giles provides the church a foundation upon which it can continue to build and 
transform itself. This book is a scholarly work, thoroughly researched, and well-written. 
Anyone wishing to read this should set aside extra time. Ministers, students, and laity 
will find this a valuable resource as they develop their understanding of the church. 

Andrew S. Hamilton 

Tom Yoder Neufeld, Put on the Armor of God: The Divine Warrior from Isaiah to 
Ephesians, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997, 182 pp., $45.00. 

"1 was struck by the importance of power and empowerment in Ephesians" (1 1). 
So reports Tom Yoder Neufeld, an associate professor of Religious Studies at Conrad 
Grebel College, University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. This discovery took place 
in the basement of the library at Harvard Divinity School in 1984 as he did research for 
a graduate seminar on Roman Christianity. He goes on to say, "My attention fixed 
quickly on chapters 1 and 3, but especially on the motif in chapter 6 of believers in the 
armor of God, at war with the powers in the heavens (II). 



175 



Book Reviews 

Motivated by scholarly, theological, and pastoral interests, the author pursued the 
subject of the Divine Warrior throughout his graduate studies. Put on the Armor of God 
is in essence the dissertation accepted by Harvard Divinity School. This scholarly 
document follows the motif of the Divine Warrior from Isaiah 59 through The Wisdom 
of Solomon 5 and I Thessalonians 5, to its conclusion in Ephesians 6. "Several issues 
attended this study from the very beginning: agency, status, the function of mythological 
and/or metaphorical terminology, and finally the relationship of the human to the divine" 
(12). 

With disciplined thoroughness, Neufeld carefully examines the context of each 
test as well as the Divine Warrior and the armor. Each step of the way he analyzes the 
passage and reports his observations. The document is a detailed study of the Greek, and 
Hebrew, and is extensively footnoted. From Isaiah 59 where God saw that there was no 
justice and non one to intervene, "So He Himself stepped in to save them with His 
mighty power and justice" (Isaiah 59:16, NET), to the imperative in Ephesians for the 
community of saints to "put on all of God's armor" (Ephesians 6: 1 1, NET), the writer 
traces the evolution of the tradition-historical motif of the Divine Warrior through a 
significant transformation. 

In Isaiah, it is God who puts on his own armor and fights the enemies of justice. 
In Ephesians, it is the church that is called to "battle at the very front lines of cosmic 
hostility" (151). Neufeld finds that I Thessalonians 5 is at the very heart of this 
transformation. 

In Thessalonians 5 Paul takes the breath-taking step of placing the 
confused and even fearful Thessalonians into God's armor, thereby 
implicating them in the invasion of the Divine Warrior. More over, the 
surprise element of that divine intrusion is heightened by the nature of that 
participation -the militant exercise of faith, love, and the hope of salvation 
(154). 

Put on the Armor of God is not light reading for the mass market. It is a scholarly 
investigation that challenges the role of the church in the struggle of reconciliation. At 
a time and in a society where the role and authority of the church is often minimized, I 
found it refreshing to discover again the values and power of the Divine Warrior who 
calls the believer to an aggressive involvement in the battle. Walter J. Kime 

Henry T. C. Sun and Keith L. Eades, with James M. Robinson and Garth I Moeller, 
eds.. Problems in Biblical Theology: Essays in Honor of Rolf Knierim, Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997, 403 pp. 

This is a useful collection of 25 essays, mostly in English though 4 are in German. 
Many of the essays are in explicit dialogue with some aspect or other of Rolf Knierim's 
significant writings on Old Testament Theology, often seeking to extend the implications 
of Knierim's work. 

It should immediately be said, however, that the title of the book is misleading. 
On the one hand, problems of biblical theology, in the sense of the interpretation and use 
of Old and New Testaments together as scripture, are almost nowhere in view (apart 
from in the short and crisp essay by Pannenberg), for this is a collection of essays about 
the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. On the other hand, the term "theology" is left 

176 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

generally undefined, and so the essays range widely from positivist historical accounts 
of Israelite religion and literature to varying attempts to reflect on the hermeneutical 
issues of Hebrew scripture as an enduring authority and resource for Christian faith. 
For me, the tenor of the book sometimes tilts more in the direction of aspects of ancient 
religious thought than of constructive hermeneutics and theology; but my difficulties 
here, which relate to the wider question of what theology is and how as a scholarly 
discipline it may be appropriately practiced, are perhaps simply difficulties with 
contemporary biblical scholarship more generally. 

Some essays discuss primarily questions of method and approach. Rolf Rendtorff 
gives, as ever, good insights into German scholarship, while Burke Long offers an 
interesting account of differences between modem and postmodern approaches to 
biblical study (using 2 Kings 3 as a test case). Marvin Sweeney discusses the 
significance of the respective canonical shapes of Christian Old Testament and Jewish 
Tanakh. General questions of textual criticism are discussed in a characteristic essay by 
James Sanders, while some possible implications of the Hebrew text as found at 
Qumram are sketched out by George Brooke. Among the exegetical studies, Roy 
Melugin's exposition of Isaiah 40-55 stands out as a persuasive account of the 
movement of thought within the biblical text. And I was fruitfully provoked to 
reflection by Antony Campbell's structural analysis of David, Saul and Goliath, in 1 
Samuel 1 6: 1 4-18:30. A range of contemporary issues are also allowed to set the context 
for, and interact with, exegesis, as when Elmer Martens discusses "Yahweh's 
Compassion and Ecotheology" or Stephen Reed engages with diet, animals and 
vegetarianism. 

In all, a worthwhile collection. It does not, however, so much offer fresh channels 
of theological thought as helpfully extend existing ones. 

R.W.L. Moberly, Durham, United Kingdom 

Roger Badham, ed., Introduction to Christian Theology Louisville, KY: Westminster 
John Knox Press, 1998. 

This volume contains essays by fifteen scholars who between them describe the 
current state of Christian theology in North America. The contributors are often eminent 
(Hauerwas, Henry, Hick), and each is asked to describe his or her own tradition in order 
to provide a survey of what is happening and where. My first response as a reader was 
to wonder about this procedure: whilst reading the introduction, it makes perfect sense 
as a theory, but on seeing the execution in the papers, I was left with the feeling that 
more profitable results might have been obtained in different ways. Many of the papers 
have the feel of manifestos, or even sloganeering, and in some cases the reader will 
wonder what has been added to his or her knowledge: that Carl Henry (for example) 
thinks inerrancy is important we knew; to understand why, or even what he means by 
it, we would need to go beyond the series of headlines that is offered here. 

The best of the papers are those which set out to define a tradition by exploring 
it. James Buckley's essay on Postliberal theology, for instance, argues an interesting 
case that this is a more Catholic tradition than it has usually been thought to be, thus 
offering a new and worthwhile reading of that tradition. Those that carefully define a 
minor or foreign tradition will be useful to those of us who were previously unaware: 

177 



Book Reviews 

Werner Jeanrond exposes the concerns and presuppositions of what he calls 
'correlational theology' in revealing ways. Hauerwas is uncharacteristically 
disappointing, Oden at least entertaining, and so we could go through. The papers vary 
in quality, but some profit will be found in almost all. On these grounds, the book is 
useful for anyone wanting a map of the current state of North American theology. 

Back to the introduction, for the book has a further purpose. Badham finishes his 
comments by raising a concern. What this volume points to is fragmentation: four 
essays in the penultimate section demonstrate this well, as feminist theology becomes 
furtherfragmented into womanist (black woman's theology), ww7'm5ra(Hispanic/Latina 
woman's theology) and Asian-American woman's theology. Badham asks for an 
Augustinian hermeneutics of charity, so that each fragment can hear what the other is 
saying and take it seriously as a conversation partner. 'This book,' he writes 'is an 
attempt to create a conversation by presenting competing voices that can speak truthfully 
of their own theological positions. ' (p.2 1 ) The "competing voices' are well-chosen and 
each is given a right to speak; but no "conversation' was evident to this reader, at least. 
This is, 1 think, not a fault of the editor, but of the contributors: North American 
theologians, more so than those of other parts of the world, it seems, no longer know 
how to talk to each other - and some of them appear not to care. This is a sad situation 
for women and men who claim to speak on behalf of a faith that values communication 
so highly that it begins with the incarnation of the Divine Word. 

Steve Holmes, Spurgeons College, London. 

Kelly James Clark, When Faith Is Not Enough. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans., 1997, 
pp. 190, $18.00. 

Two primary themes lace their way throughout this thoughtfully written work. 
One concerns the question of doubt's relationship to faith. As knotty as the first is, the 
second is embarrassingly uncomplicated: Why do our most profound attempts to find 
meaning and happiness apart from faith inevitably lead to despair and brokenness? In 
illustration of the seemingly impenetrable complexity as well as serene simplicity of 
authentic faith, characters as diverse as Abraham, Job, Kierkegaard and the Brothers 
Karamazov parade before the reader in this volume. 

The author is refreshingly honest as he wrestles with the ""shadow of doubf " -the 
hiddenness of God-particularly in the contexts of a pluralistic, and for the most part 
pagan, culture. Doubt, writes the author, is ""that secret sin buried within the soul." 
Although we are afraid to touch it, authentic Christian belief "demands that we uncover 
it, understand it, and make our peace with it." The doubt encountered on life's journey 
with which the author struggles is a doubt endemic to religious belief and is to be 
distinguished from obstinate unbelief The latter, in the author's words, is characterized 
by ""a hardness of heart, a stubbornness, an unwillingness to trust or hope in God." The 
sincere doubt of the believer, by contrast, is the ""authentic expression of anguish over 
our wretched believing condition." 

While belief in God may provide the intellectual and moral center of our lives, the 
fact remains that, existentially. we may still not be certain of its truth. Critical 
scrutiny-an ability observed by the author to be both blessing and bane-must be applied 
to our faith if in fact that faith is seaworthy. The reader is thus cautioned: ""Not all 

178 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

atheists are fools or idiots," for intellectual humility is a virtue that recognizes the limit 
of human understanding-an understanding that is incapable of penetrating the mystery 
of providence and pain, innocent suffering of gratuitous evil. In the end, when alone 
with our questions, we are left with the confession of the writer of Hebrews: "Faith is 
the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of realities not seen." Like Abraham 
of old, we too do not see the inheritance; we merely bear seeds of the promise-a promise 
not yet fulfilled. 

The search for self, as described by the author (a professor of philosophy at Calvin 
College), ends in the manifestation of the virtue of humility: "It is only when we realize 
that on our own we are nothing that we can open our self up to God"; any "trivial 
attempts to fill up that space with meaning amount to precisely nothing." Humility, in 
contrast to the arch vice pride, represents the "unmasking of the self" This "unmasking" 
is a necessary precondition of all meaningful human fellowships and the foundation- 
stone for the "establishment of a proper relationship with God." Finding one's true self 
is no other than finding "satisfaction in the esteem of God." Finding personal self- 
esteem in the esteem of God is understood by the author to reconcile the two poles that 
constitute biblical anthropology-human worth as the imago Dei and human depravity. 
To deny either pole is to deny the essence of human nature. Doing justice to both 
elements finds expression in an unconventional bit of rabbinic wisdom: "A man should 
carry two stones in his pocket. On one should be inscribed, "I am but dust and ashes.' 
On the other. "For my sake the world was created.' And he should use each stone as he 
needs it." 

Life's pilgrimage, sustained by a healthy, probing faith and manifesting itself in 
the grace of humility, forbids us from becoming either complacent or anxious. The faith- 
life is anchored in the awareness of "a moral and spiritual center of the universe." around 
which our lives, our health, our being, revolve. We live and press on, knowing that God 
is perfecting the good work already begun in us-a work that He will ultimately bring to 
completion, regardless of faith's mystery that so often seems impenetrable. 

For the wayfarer wrestling with doubt and seeking a spiritual compass, this 
volume is a welcome road map. even when the author stubbornly resists dispensing pat 
answers to unexpected turns in life's way. J. Daryl Charles. Taylor University 

Millard J, Erickson Postmodernizing the Faith: Evangelical Responses to the 
Challenge of Postmodernism Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998. 

Erickson will need little introduction; this volume contains a list of "other titles 
by...' that will ensure that. In this little (161pp.. including index) book, he returns to 
the task of mapping contemporary evangelical theology that he previously essayed in 
The Evangelical Left. Erickson announces his purpose as "to survey some representative 
evangelical responses to postmodernism.' (p. 9) A few pages of introduction to 
postmodernism, and then we are led through a tour of evangelical theologians that makes 
up the meat of the book, before a final comment on the possibility of Christian 
apologetics to postmodern thinkers. 1 suppose Erickson would expect his reviewers to 
consider how well he has read each theologian, and how usefully these thinkers span the 
range of theological responses. The book contains accurate readings, as far as I know. 



179 



Book Reviews 

and certainly maps out some territory. Its flaws are on a far more ftindamental level than 
that. 

'...[S]ome representative evangelical responses ...' It might be considered 
deeply ironic that a book on postmodernism should regard the views of eight (including 
Erickson himself) North American males as in any sense 'representative'. This is more 
than just ironic, however: it is an indication that Erickson has not begun to grasp the 
challenge thrown down by postmodemity. In this duel the respondent is not offered 
choice of weapon, and if he arrives with a coterie of male WASP seconds he will be 
laughed off the field. 

And so we go through the book. At every turn, the things that the postmodern 
critics have devoted themselves to systematically casting doubt on, or even undermining, 
are simply assumed. Erickson offers a reading of each of his representatives: what 
makes him presume that he can read and report with any degree of accuracy? Does he 
not realise that "every decoding is a further encoding', and so that his 'readings' are no 
more than reflections of his own subconscious? Worse, he applies the same 
interpretative questions to each one, assuming (with charming naivete, no doubt) that 
'knowledge', whatever that may mean, is not necessarily shaped by its object. In each 
case aspects are described as 'good' and 'bad' suggesting, astonishingly enough, that 
Erickson apparently has straightforward access to some transcendent value system which 
will enable him to pass moral judgement! 

Postmodemity is something serious. It is a challenge on a methodological and 
philosophical level to current ways of thought and practice. It is a full frontal, and 
apparently successful, attack on precisely those intellectual presuppositions that 
Erickson adopts in writing this book. The whole conception of this book unreflectively 
assumes the falsity of the postmodern critique, and yet Erickson then offers a supposedly 
neutral evaluation of a series of positions relating to this critique. Methodologically, this 
would be a bizarre procedure whatever the object in view; with this object in view it is 
indicative of a failure to grasp what is being discussed. The reader who has already 
decided that the questions asked by postmodemity are to be dismissed will find his or 
her prejudices confirmed by this book, and will no doubt gain some insight into the 
responses being made by (North American, male) evangelicals; the reader who does not 
regard these questions as quite so trivial, however, will just be bemused. 

Steve Holmes, Spurgeons College, London 

Henry H. Knight III, A Future for Truth: Evangelical Theology in a Postmodern 
World. Nashville: Abington Press, 1997, 253 pp. 

While postmodemity challenges the very foundation of Christianity, we find an 
evangelical scholar proposing an answer to its charges. However, this time the approach 
comes from the perspective of pietism. Knight writes this proposal hoping to explain 
how Christians can believe in a revelation that they claim is universally significant and 
still proclaim its message to a post-modem world. 

Henry Knight III, an Assistant Professor of Evangelicalism at Saint Paul School 
of Theology, challenges the traditional universal truth claims. In a world where we are 
faced daily with diverse cultures and perspectives, universal truth is naturally 



180 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (J 999) 

questioned. Knight has thoughtfully put together a ten-chapter book that suggests 
Christianity is now positioned better than it has been in centuries to spread the gospel. 

In the first three chapters of this book, Knight offers definitions to key issues 
surrounding truth claims. He sets out first by offering a definition to a label that many 
different people lay claim to, "evangelicalism." In this first chapter, he shows the wide 
spectrum of meaning that it holds and how he will use it in the text. Considering 
evangelicalism, he interestingly enough embraces Bloesch's criticism of liberal and 
conservative theology which shows that there is not much difference between the two. 
The second and third chapters discuss ''modernity" and "postmodemity." These three 
chapters give the reader a fine overview to some key issues facing Christians today. 

However, it is chapter four that truly introduces the central issue of the book. 
From here to the end of chapter ten. Knight wrestles with the prospect of proclaiming 
Jesus Christ as the universal savior to a postmodern world. Within these chapters he 
compares and contrasts the ultra-critical and the post-critical approaches. In the end, he 
concludes that it is the post-critical description of narratively shaped communities- 
enhanced by a strong view of the Holy Spirit— that allows Christians to proclaim Christ 
to a postmodern world while remaining faithful to the gospel. 

Knight has skillfully put together a book that challenges the conservative 
evangelicals. Among its strengths, this book deals with relevant issues for today's 
world. Knight has provided a fair introductory analysis of postmodemity that is readable 
for students. He has also given us a good introduction to some contemporary theological 
issues. 

This book, however, had some weaknesses as well. While I found the discussion 
interesting, it became noticeable that key figures outside this book who have been active 
in the debate concerning modernity and postmodemity were missing. This may be due 
to Knight centering around evangelicalism, but it has resulted in the failure to 
acknowledge some key questions dealing with these issues. Nevertheless, in the end 
Knight provides evangelicals with the weighty challenge of entering into the postmodern 
world while still proclaiming Jesus Christ. 1 would recommend this book to pastors and 
students alike. Andrew S. Hamilton 

Arthur F. Holmes, Fact, Value and God, 1997. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, pp. 183, 
$18.00. 

In light of what is deemed "a checkered career" of twentieth-century moral 
philosophy, Arthur Holmes explores the fact-value connection in the wider context of 
metaphysics and theology. Unconvinced that we live in a value-free universe and that 
fact and value are unrelated, the author attempts to explore historical ways in which 
moral values have been grounded in the nature of reality. What emerges, in the author's 
words, is "a more pervasive linkage than I had anticipated" between religious and moral 
beliefs, despite contemporary philosophical claims to the contrary. 

Chapters 1 to 6 concern themselves with metaphysical accounts of the cosmos, 
teleology and notions of good and evil, ranging from pre-Socratic philosophers, Plato, 
Aristotle and the Stoics to Augustine and Aquinas. The pre-Socratics largely replace the 
early mythology about nature and the gods with a more "scientific" outlook, which in 
turn prepares the way for Platonic and Aristotelian metaphysics. A central concern of 

181 



Book Reviews 

Plato's works is the improvement of the soul. It is the Sophists who most personify what 
Plato opposes, namely, rhetoric as a means to achieve influence, rather than the 
inculcation of virtue. Whether addressing matters of the state or the individual, Plato 
believes that knowing good is essential to improving the soul. In the author's view, 
Plato's concept of God, though emerging only gradually, anticipates Judeo-Christian 
teleology and moral arguments and influences the development of Christian theology. 

While Plato is much more the moralist and reformer, Aristotle seems more the 
objective scientist. Aristotle's dissatisfaction with his predecessors is their lack of 
consistently scientific method. Moral philosophy in Aristotle draws an analogy between 
nature and human action. Nature's ends are not matters of change; Aristotelian 
teleology pervades all things, including human well-being (eudaimonia). Virtue means 
the flourishing of the human condition; moral virtues are the excellence of the appetitive 
life, and intellectual virtues of the life of the mind. 

During the New Testament era. Christian and Greek philosophy come into 
repeated contact. The apostle Paul cites Stoic philosophers as he addresses Stoics and 
Epicureans in Athens, and his reflections on creation and conscience in Romans I and 
2 are reminiscent of Stoic notions of natural law and the cosmos. An important touch 
point between Christian and Stoic philosophy is the Logos as the divine intermediary 
which governs the universe. Important distinctions between three competing 
explanations of the cosmos emerge during the early Christian centuries. The dualist 
echoes the gnostic claim that matter exists independent of God, and therefore, is a source 
of evil. For the pantheist. Stoic and neoplatonic ideas of matter emanating from the 
divine make the divine and nature one, whereby evil is only a privation, a deficiency, in 
reason. The theist, on the other hand, makes the crucial distinction between God and the 
natural world. Created ex nihilo, the cosmos is given its existence-and value-due to 
God's free action. Creation ex nihilo, moreover, means that evil is not an inherent 
necessity in the structure of the cosmos-an issue that is more fully expounded by 
Augustine. 

The problem of evil constitutes a major influence in Augustine's occupation with 
Platonic and Manichean thought. As understood by the latter, an eternal dualism allows 
no room for the eventual vindication of good, and any notion of justice is illusory. For 
Augustine, the implications of the biblical doctrine of creation ex nihilo satisfy 
conditions for human freedom and divine sovereignty, while offering hope for both 
history and the human soul. 

To the extent that Plato anticipates Christian metaphysics for Augustine, Aristotle 
does so for Aquinas. Unlike some of his day, Aquinas was unwilling to acknowledge 
that philosophy and theology stood in opposition; rather, reason and revelation, rightly 
understood, work together. Knowledge comes to human beings in two ways: through 
divine law as revealed in the scriptures and natural law that is "written on the heart," as 
Paul expresses it. Natural law derives from self-evident "first principles" elucidated by 
reason and implanted by God the Creator. In integrating Augustinian theology with 
Aristotelian philosophy, Aquinas sets forth an understanding of ethics that is seen be to 
"inescapably religious"; moral good is grounded in the reality of God. 

Over two millennia witness to the conviction that transcendent realities supersede 
history and human choices. For the author a shift can be seen with the nominalist 
construction of human nature, Scottish realism, Kantian dualism and volitional 

182 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

autonomy, utilitarianism, Hegelian dialectic and Nietzschean evolutionary naturalism. 
Chapters 7 through 13 are devoted to this gradual shift. 

Utility and personal happiness constitute the measure of ethical conduct for 
pragmatist-hedonists such as John Stuart Mill. For Mill, no metaphysical theory or 
theological presupposition is needed. Liberty and justice cohere in a social stability that 
issues out of subordinating individual impulses to social ends, without any recourse to 
metaphysical claims. Ethics in Mill is an empirical science that understands people as 
complexities of sensation who are ordered and managed by social means. 

In Kantian thought, reason not only reflects nature but also determines its essence 
and meaning, in accordance with the Enlightenment tradition. Whereas Kantian reason 
is able to exercise its sovereignty over the phenomenological world, it is powerless to 
discern anything about the noumenal realm of the spirit; discerning meaning and value 
by Kantian logic requires the use of the irrational. For Hegel, Kantian ethics is too 
abstract. Reason and passion need reconciling. The pulsation of reason and will 
throughout history is due to an all inclusive Absolute Spirit, the highest expression of 
which finds its embodiment in the nation-state. Heglian "theology" deities history, with 
its creative and dialectical processes. Consequently, Hegel is unable to acknowledge any 
ultimate distinction between good and evil, since both categories inhere in a nation of 
God. Hence, radical evil-such as murder, genocide or chronic poverty-as well as 
natural catastrophe-e.g., floods, earthquakes and pestilence-dely' any attempts at 
explanation. In the end, such historical positivism cannot provide any assurance of good 
overcoming evil, leaving the question of the relationship between fact and value 
unresolved. 

While ethics is demystefled and "humanized" in people like Hume, Mill, Kant and 
Kegel, the relativizing process is complete in the work of Nietzsche, who sees no 
theoretical or pragmatic reasons for belief in God. Christianity, with its emphasis on the 
fictitious afterlife, constitutes a rejection of the ''real" world, thereby "corrupting" 
humanity. Christian faith serves as a "counter-concept to nature," an invention that 
degrades both the body and the passions. Nietzsche's reconstruction is a call to move 
''beyond good and evil" and to embrace nature. Nature itself reflects a will to power, a 
universal drive that underlies the world. Although it makes no explicitly metaphysical 
claims, Nietzschean evolutionary naturalism, in the author's view, takes a metaphysical 
posture by its rejection of ethical objectivity. 

The purpose of this volume is to trace briefly the historical roots of moral 
philosophy and demonstrate the connection between the fact-value relationship and 
notions of God. Several broader historical approaches to ethics reveal it to be grounded 
not just in fact but in some concept of divine transcendence, whereas modem and 
postmodern approaches to ethics divorce themselves from this presupposition. But even 
ethical relativism, as the author observes in tipping his hat to academic celebrity Richard 
Rorty, depends on a presupposed belief in God. The great value of this volume, which 
is selective and assumes general philosophical knowledge on the part of the reader, is 
the author's ability to critique the movement of moral philosophy, with its increasingly 
secular and immanent trajectory, in the light of an alternative perspective-namely, belief 
in the Logos and an ordered universe, the conviction of which "grounds objective truth 
and goodness, gives purpose in life and viability to reason, and offers hope of an 
eventually moral world." J. Daryl Charles 

183 



Book Reviews 

Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Christian Moral Perspectives. Committee on 
Medical Ethics, Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C. Morehouse, 1997. 

This book is the report by the Episcopal Dioceses of Washington, D.C, 
concerning the question of assisted suicide and euthanasia for those who are in pain and 
near death. The report attempts to present "both sides of the question, as well as two 
'middle' views" on the issue (xi). The report indicates that some would have wished for 
them to "reach morally binding conclusions," but that they have not yet found a way to 
do so (xiii). The committee indicates a strong commitment to openness and dialogue, 
especially in the event that new information is made available. 

The committee is to be commended for offering helpful distinctions and 
definitions of relevant terms (Section B), which should be helpful to those who have not 
read widely on the moral questions surrounding assisted suicide and euthanasia. The 
report is fair and accurate in presenting contemporary discussion of the issues. 

However, in my view this report has significant weaknesses, most of which stem 
from its failure to make any substantial moral judgement about the issues that are 
presented. Setting aside secondary problems with this report, then, 1 will attempt to 
address what I think is the main problem. 

There is an apparent presumption that the issues are best sorted out simply by 
presenting all sides as fairly and accurately as possible, and recognizing differences of 
opinion. However, there are problems with such a tactic. First, truth becomes 
secondary, something perhaps seen best in an analogy with certain court room practices. 
What is important is persuasion, and sometimes the most persuasive view is not the one 
that corresponds with truth. Persuasion may be derived from stacking up numerous 
arguments that confuse and create an appearance of a "preponderance of evidence". 
Second, and following on this point, the process of weighing arguments in such a way 
often does not take special account of those arguments that better grasp the truth. To 
illustrate, it is like stacking weights on two sides of a scale, but failing to account for 
differences in individual weights. As a result, the "winning" side is the one with the 
most weights, not the most weight. 

An indication of the problem of the committee's approach is found early on. Since 
there is disagreement among Christians, they suggest, we may consider assisted suicide 
and euthanasia a disputable matter (cf Rom. 14:1). Thus, it seems to be implied, we 
need to agree to disagree and work on building up the community. Is this framing of a 
possible solution acceptable? Disagreement amongst Christians on an issue does not 
indicate that the issue is a "disputable matter". It may indicate that someone (or some 
group) is wrong! American slavery was not a disputable matter simply because some 
Christians argued strongly against it and others argued strongly for it. 

The committee presents all arguments openly, fairly, and as objectively as 
possible, leaving judgments and conclusions to the reader. This is highly unfortunate, 
for two reasons. First, the committee fails to discern the difference between weighty 
arguments and those that are not at all compelling. And second, it fails to draw its own 
moral judgment concerning assisted suicide and euthanasia. Perhaps what is needed, 
even more than "openness" and "dialogue" on these and other moral issues, is moral 
wisdom and courage. The committee serves as a voice of the Church, and the Church 
ought to be able to make moral judgements on such crucial issues. It ought not to have 

184 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

simply presented the evidence for the jury to decide, but also to have weighed the 
evidence and offered a verdict. 

Of course, when the committee is divided sharply, this is a difficult task. Yet that 
does not indicate that assisted suicide and euthanasia are disputable matters, but only 
that the committee, as a reflection of the Church as a whole, stands in need of the 
transformation of the mind and heart that would produce the unity of Christ. And, one 
would hope, a moral judgment on such significant issues. 

K.T. Magnuson, Wake Forest, NC 

Michael Manning, Euthanasia and Physician-assisted Suicide: Killing or Caring? 
New York: Paulist Press 1998, ix = 120 pp., $8.95. 

This is a concise, clearly written book on a pair of closely related ethical 
issues — euthanasia (E) and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) — that modem society is 
ever more readily embracing. Those outside of, as well as within, the church know the 
secular, popular level arguments that have led Oregon to legalize PAS and Holland to 
permit E — sympathy for a dying person who requests help to end their suffering. The 
initial problem for the reflective individual is to retrieve the reasons that underlie the 
traditional ethic against (suicide), E and PAS, so as to bear up to the seductive nature 
of the popular reasons that favor E and PAS. This book is very helpful toward that end. 

Manning provides the reader basic definitions of E and PAS and sketches out the 
traditional Christian position, in particular, that which features the natural law tradition 
of Roman Catholicism and St. Thomas Aquinas. However, one of the main strengths 
of the book is its short chapter on the secular history of euthanasia (from Plato to 
Darwinism) and the religious history on "crimes against life" (from St. Augustine to the 
Magisterial Documents and arguments of John Paul II). The following chapter on '"Self 
Determination"' is an argument for moral limits on autonomy and compassion, by appeal 
to the literature of the Church, numerous contemporary theologians and bioethicists, 
e.g., Richard McCormick, William May and Daniel Callahan. The chapter on "Killing 
vs. Allowing to Die" addresses the most fundamental ethical distinctions that one must 
carefully sort out, together with the proper use of the Principle of double Effect. These 
distinctions must also be employed in order to hold that it may be permissible to 
discontinue life-sustaining treatment (in limited conditions) but that PAS and E are 
unethical in principle. This chapter is somewhat weak, as it employs "natural" 
conditions and "'artificial" treatments as if they are moral distinctions per se, the 
"Principle of the Common Good" is too vague and open to misuse, and the reader is left 
unclear whether or not Manning is arguing that nutrition and hydration must be provided 
endlessly, e.g., in cases of the persistent vegetative state. It would be helpful there to 
add the American Medical Associations' (Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs 
Statement on Withholding or Withdrawing Life Prolonging Medical Treatment, March 
15, 1986) clinical criteria for marking off permissible cases of allowing to die from the 
impermissible practice of PAS and E. The criteria for termination of life-sustaining 
treatment are that: the patient must be terminally ill, imminently dying, suffering, they 
must meet the conditions of making an informed request to forgo treatment, and then the 
patient may be sedated and allowed to die from the underlying condition, but must not 
be intentionally killed, i.e., as in acts of PAS and E. 

185 



Book Reviews 

Chapter 7, on "The Slippery Slope Argument," outlines this important type of 
argument and explains its pragmatic effectiveness in non-religious settings where 
consequences, rather than moral principles per se, get peoples' attention, it highlights 
relevant historical evidence of the slippery slope occurring in German medicine prior to 
World War II that led the way to the "Final Solution'" in Nazi Germany. This chapter 
also sketches out a slippery slope condition that is currently occurring in the Dutch 
experience of the medicalization of the "merciful administration of death." Basic 
literature references are given that point the reader to further study. The final chapter 
is weak, as it is only a four page conclusion and commentary on the preceding materials. 
However, the purpose of this work is to provide a concise introduction to the formative 
arguments and distinctions that the general public must become knowledgeable of in 
order to understand the seriousness of PAS and E; ideas that are fashionable and 
seductive of many within the Church, and not just those outside its boundaries. 

Howard M. Ducharme, University of Akron 

Sondra Ely Wheeler, Stewards of Life: Bioethics and Pastoral Care, Nashville: 
Abingdon Press, 1996. 

The purpose of this book is to discuss moral questions raised by the use of 
technology in contemporary medical practice, within the framework of Christian faith. 
Wheeler, who is Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary 
in Washington, D.C., seeks to show that bioethics is a task for the Church, a task that the 
Church ignores only at her own peril and that of society. Further, she seeks to provide 
a basic introduction to the language, questions and methods of bioethics, and to equip 
pastors and chaplains to provide counsel for parishioners and patients. 

Chapter One addresses Christian faith in relation to medical practice. Wheeler 
rightly asserts that ethics is not the right place to start, because it is one's belief system 
that determines one's ethics, i.e.. Christian faith determines Christian practice, so faith 
issues must first be clarified. Chapter Two discusses the (traditional) four main 
principles of medical ethics: autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice. 
Chapter Three seeks to apply these principles to difficult cases in bioethics. This is a 
valuable chapter, not least because it deals with actual cases, including whether to 
intubate an elderly or critically ill person and whether aggressive surgery is appropriate 
for a very premature infant. The fourth chapter discusses four roles of the pastor in a 
medical crisis: "presence", "interpreter" (of the situation), "partner in discernment", and 
"witness to the gospel." In her conclusion Wheeler issues a reminder that there are (and 
should be) limits to the practice of medicine and bioethics that need to be recognized 
and respected. 

Wheeler has largely succeeded in accomplishing her goals. This book is not only 
a helpful introduction to bioethics, but it also addresses the pastoral concerns that are left 
out of other introductions. Further, the author is to be commended for raising 
theological considerations rather than relying merely on sociological, psychological, 
legal and technical points. For example, the discussion of autonomy demonstrates 
serious theological reflection. Christians, Wheeler asserts, have good reason both to 
affirm a basic concept of autonomy, and to look upon certain accounts of autonomy with 
suspicion. Autonomy is not an individual freedom to be understood apart from 

186 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

responsibility toward otiiers and accountability to God. Rather, autonomy indicates a 
right and responsibility to take seriously the stewardship of life that God has given His 
image-bearers. 

Mention should be made of some weaknesses in this book. First, while it serves 
its purposes well, it is a very brief introduction and not a tool for in-depth study. It is 
only 1 18 pages of text, with a brief bibliography and no index or glossary. References 
to significant thinkers, such as Augustine (p. 44f ), are not documented with sources, 
which limits the student who would want to do further study. 

In addition, Wheeler indicates a strong influence of narrative theology on her 
thinking in Chapter One. Although she may be applauded for attempting to incorporate 
both narrative and principal ethics in her approach, she emphasizes the notion of "story" 
without suggesting whether the story is or must be true. It may be asked whether "story" 
is a strong enough concept to guide ethical reflection and deliberation. The issue is 
important for determining the function of Scripture in ethics. It also presses us to ask 
whether Jesus Christ accomplished something objectively on behalf of humanity, or do 
we simply have stories related by his followers? It is not clear what Wheeler thinks (cf 
pp.22, 26). 

Further, in her discussion of various ministry roles, the role of witness to the 
gospel, arguably the most significant of the four, is not given due weight. One last minor 
point. In her discussion of artificial feeding of a person whose quality of life is severely 
diminished, she asks, -'can medically provided nutrition sometimes be ended because 
of the burdens it imposes?" (p. 83, italics added). In reality, it is the disease, not the 
treatment, which imposes the burden. It is a significant point in that the way that we 
articulate problems affects the way that we perceive and think about them, and it affects 
our determination of action. 

These weaknesses do not outweigh the strengths of this book, however. It is a 
helpful and practical contribution for ministers who have questions or need to think 
about bioethical issues. K.T. Magnuson 

David W. Bercot, ed., A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, Hendrickson: 
Peabody, MA, 1998, 704pp., $34.95 hb. 

This book is basically an extended index to the ten-volume Library of Ante- 
Nicene Fathers, now also published by Hendrickson. The author has gone through these 
volumes and selected quotations according to subject matter, making it possible to see 
at a glance what the early Christians thought about such things as the mark of the beast 
and natural law, as well as more familiar topics like baptism and martyrdom. He has also 
taken the trouble to cover subjects which were unknown to the early church, but which 
may have been dealt with in an oblique way. A good example of this is the entry on 
purgatory, which refers the reader to 'dead, intermediate state of the' and to 'prayer VI: 
should Christians pray for the dead?' 

For those with fading memories who cannot quite recall where it was that 
Tertullian compared Athens with Jerusalem, for example, this book will save hours of 
labor, though it should be said that in this particular case it is necessary to look under 
philosophy, since there is no entry for Athens, and the ones for Jerusalem deal with other 
matters. Particularly important is the fact that each entry begins with a verse or two from 

187 



Book Reviews 

the Bible which refer to the topic being discussed, so that it is possible to compare 
Scripture with the Fathers on the same page. 

Preachers looking for sermon material will naturally turn to 'quotable quotes from 
the fathers', perhaps stopping off at 'entertainment' along the way. Mr Bercot claims that 
theology took a back seat to living the Christian life in the early centuries of the church, 
but in spite of that his index is highly theological, and includes almost everything one 
would expect to find in textbooks of a much later date. There are also helpful references 
to pagans like Pythagoras and Plato, and even Zoroaster gets a mention. 

The one drawback to the dictionary is that it is necessary to use the Hendrickson 
edition of the Ante-Nicene Fathers along with it, since references are given to that, and 
not to the chapter and verse of the works quoted. Thus, for example, we discover that 
Noah is mentioned in Lactantius 7.63, which means p. 63 of volume 7. Only by looking 
that up do we find that it is from chapter 14 of the Divine institutes'. In effect this means 
that consulting the dictionary is only the first of a two-stage process which would be 
virtually impossible to complete without the LANF. That may be a drawback to some 
potential users, but for those with access to the LANF texts, this dictionary will be an 
essential resource. It is to be highly recommended, and will surely be widely used by 
scholars, preachers and students alike. Gerald Bray, Beeson Divinity School 

Hans Kiing, Great Christian Thinkers, John Bowden, trans., New York: The 
Continuum Publishing Co., 1996, 235 pp. 

The noted Tubingen theologian describes this book as a short forerunner to the 
second volume of his trilogy The Religious Situation of Our Time. Before discussing 
Christianity in our day (the subject of Vol. 2) he wants to summarize and evaluate seven 
of the greatest theological minds Christendom has produced. 

The chapter titles describes the value he ascribes to them: 1 . Paul: Christianity 
becomesa world religion. 2. Origen: thegreatsynthesisofantiquity and theChrisfian 
spirit. 3. Augustine: the father of all western Latin theology. 4. Thomas Aquinas: 
university science and papal court theology. 5. Martin Luther: return to the gospel as 
the classical instance of a paradigm shift. 6. Friedrich Schleiermacher: theology at 
dawn of modernity. 7. Karl Barth: theology in the transition to postmodemity. 

Kiing has tried to identify a handful of thinkers whose influence proved to be so 
great that they could be said to have initiated paradigm shifts in the way Christian 
theology has been conceived and written. Paul, for example, took a provincial 
Messianic sect and turned it toward becoming a world religion. Two centuries later 
Origen married that faith (for better or for worse) to Platonism and Neoplatonism, the 
greatest philosophical approach of the ancient world. A century and a half later 
Augustine struck out in a new direction for Roman theology by his thinking on sin, 
grace, and predestination. 

Each of the seven, as Kiing sees it, stood at a major crossroads of intellectual 
history and pointed a new way for the church. Through the course of Kiing's career (he 
wrote this when he was 66 years of age) he has given special attention to the doctrine of 
justification and the theology of Karl Barth. Those emphases are here also. His chapter 
on Luther is one of the best, and he recounts insightful conversations with Barth. 



188 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

The book likewise reflects Kiing's lifelong impatience with the hierarchical 
government and teaching of his church. At several points he uses the place of women 
as a test case, and he speaks sharply of his church's lapses. Commenting on Luther's 
"return to the gospel as the classical instance of a paradigm shift," he writes, "Rome has 
not drawn the consequences which followed Luther for the structure of the church. 
Indeed the present clerical unspiritual dictatorship of Rome again mocks the basic 
concern of the Reformation, which is also a good Catholic concern (the Pope is not 
above scripture). Rome still has little understanding of what Luther wanted in the light 
ofthe gospel" (pp. 147-148). 

Each chapter begins with a chronology of that thinker's life, identifies the nature 
and importance of their work for their day. and evaluates their contribution for our time 
as well. Kiing has thought long, hard, and broadly. Many in our world admire him; 
others believe he is dangerous. But he continues to push the church--all ofthe church- 
to really give to the world what we claim to have: light and life in Jesus Christ. 

Jerry Flora 

L. W. Barnard (tr.), Justin Martyr, The First and Second Apologies, Ancient 
Christian Writers 56, New York/Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1997, vi + 
245 pp. 

Justin Martyr wrote two apologies— two appeals, in effect, to the Roman emperors 
Antoninus Pius and his adopted son Marcus Aurelius calling for the suspension ofthe 
execution of Christians merely on the basis of their devotion to this new "philosophy" 
and not on the basis of conviction of criminal behaviors. His work merits the careful 
attention of all students ofthe New Testament and early Christianity as a testimony to 
the way in which Christians were slandered by many in the ancient world and the nature 
ofthe prosecution of Christians before the general persecutions of Decius and Diocletian 
in the third century. Justin also provides a valuable window into the early church's 
reading ofthe Jewish Scriptures as a body of predictions ofthe ministry and passion of 
Jesus, the meaning and practice of baptism and the Lord's Supper in the second century 
(concerning which Justin gives an extensive account), the way in which the teachings 
of Christianity were compared with the teachings of Greco-Roman philosophical schools 
and the pagan myths and practices, and the progress of certain heretics in Rome (like 
Simon the Sorcerer and Marcion). 

Barnard has provided in this volume a very readable translation of these 
apologies, together with a helpful introduction and excellent notes discussing matters 
ofthe translation of difficult passages, tracing the philosophical influences upon Justin, 
and providing copious references to classical, scriptural, and patristic authors for the 
further investigation of these connections and cross-influences. An appendix describes 
the features of Justin's eschatology and accounts for the sometimes contradictory 
schemes by a closer examination of the concerns which shaped Justin's different 
accounts, and a thorough bibliography serves as a guide to further reading on the work 
of Justin and his environment. 

While there are some details which merit criticism, such as Barnard's invoking 
Matthew 25:13 and Justin, Dial. 28.2-3, as examples "not of apocalyptic, but of realized, 
eschatology" in his appendix and his mention of an assault on the church by Domitian 

189 



Book Reviews 

without clarifying this statement in light of the rather cogent argument of L. L. 
Thompson {The Book of Revelation [New York: Oxford, 1990]) against the likelihood 
of Domitian's interest in persecuting the church, this is nevertheless a very welcome 
guide to Justin's key writings. Of special value are the extensive notes and Barnard's 
discussion of the connections between Justin's interpretation and defense of the gospel 
and the philosophical conceptions which undergird his presentation. 

David A. deSilva 

Aloys Grillmeier with Teresia Hainthaler, Christ in Christian Tradition, Volume 2: 
From the Council of Chalcedon to Gregory the Great, Part 4: The Church of 
Alexandria with Nubia and Ethiopia after 451. Louisville: Westminster John Knox 
Press, 1996. 550 pp, cloth, $50.00. 

One of the contributions of postmodernism to theology has been the reminder that 
dogma does not exist in a vacuum. Rather, it exists with all kinds of historical and 
cultural particularities. In this book, Aloys Grillmeier together with Theresia Hainthaler 
examine the development of Christology along the Nile prior to the Islamic conquest. 
The author refers to this work as '"a Christological Nile expedition." This is a 
surprisingly accurate description as the authors have organized the material in such a 
way that it truly has the feel of a journey. The book follows a geographic progression 
that moves from somewhat familiar to extremely remote terrain. 

This work is the fourth part to volume two of Grillmeier's impressive study of the 
historical development of Christology. It is, itself, divided into four parts. The first part 
addresses Alexandrian-Greek Christology. It details the early struggle between the 
Chalcedonians and the anti-Chalcedonians and examines the influence of the 
Alexandrian scholars on Christology. Journeying up the Nile, the second part examines 
Coptic Christianity. The central figure for this part is the Coptic monks Shenoute. The 
section concludes with a study of the Christology of Coptic liturgical prayers. 

Part three is a brief section and is entitled "The 'Cross of Christ' over Nubia" 
which Grillmeier graciously explains as the area along the Nile between Aswan and 
Khartoum. This is the shortest of the four parts of the book but intriguing, nevertheless. 
The material is derived from "archeological rescue work" that was made necessary by 
the construction of the Aswan High Dam. The expedition ends in Ethiopia with part 
four discussing Ethiopian Christianity. Much of this section is devoted to explaining the 
introduction and propagation of Christianity in the area. Toward the end, Grillmeier 
makes the interesting assertion that Ethiopian Christianity has characteristics of Jewish- 
Christian origins. 

The book's high level of scholarship is immediately evident even before reading 
it. The fact that this is the fourth book on Christology between Chalcedon and the death 
of Gregory is a strong indication of the thoroughness of Grillmeier and Hainthaler. 
Furthermore, the depth of research is evidenced by the footnotes which consume an 
average of one-third to one-half of each page. In my opinion, this is a significant book 
not only because of its extensive use of the secondary literature, but because of its 
examination of the primary literature. From the poetry that is considered in part one to 
the prayers and liturgy that are considered in parts two, three, and four, this book wisely 
looks beyond theological treatises for insights into Christology along the Nile. 

190 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

This book is also important because in much of this work the authors are forging 
new ground. This is particularly true of material on Nubia and Ethiopia. Apart from the 
work that Grillmeier and Hainthaler have done, much of the material covered in this 
book would remain largely inaccessible. For these reasons the authors have done the 
academy an immeasurable service. In my opinion, the scholarship of this book further 
establishes Christ in Christian Tradition as the current definitive work on the historical 
development of Christology. Rob Douglass 

Arthur J. Freeman, /l/i Ecumenical Theology of the Heart: The Theology of Count 
Nicholas Ludvig von Zinzendorf Bethlehem, PA and Winston-Salem, NC: The 
Moravian Church in America, 1998, 346 pp., $24.00. 

This is a timely book in that the year 2000 marks 300 years since the birth of 
Count Zinzendorf It celebrates renewed interest in Zinzendorf within the Moravian 
Church and throughout the larger scholarly world. A reticence against hero worship has 
meant that his own communion has often neglected Zinzendorf s history and theology. 
And, until recent academic interest. Pietism has not had favorable print over much of the 
last century. The fact that much of Zinzendorfs writings are not available in English 
translation has also contributed to his neglect in American scholarship. Freeman's work 
therefore addresses a real need in the study of Moravian Pietism and its contribution to 
the larger Christian community. 

Freeman is well suited for the task of communicating Zinzendorf. He was the 
subject of his doctoral dissertation at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1 962 (p. 1 ). For 
over 30 years he taught at Moravian Theological Seminary, including a course on 
Zinzendorfs theology (p. 307). He has served as a bishop in the Moravian Church and 
participated in many of its theological and ecclesiastical deliberations over the last 
decades. His book reflects his excellent facility in the German language of Zinzendorf s 
writings and the theological sources which surround such a study. 

The purpose of the book is to put Zinzendor's theology in an ecumenical 
perspective and integrate it with concerns for spiritual formation (pp. iv, 2). Freeman's 
object is to show the ecumenical spirit of Zinzendorf s theology in his own day as well 
as its possibilities of addressing broadly-based Christian issues of the present time. This 
is most obvious in the '"reflection sections" that conclude each major chapter, where the 
author describes possible connections between Zinzendorfs thought and the modem 
age. Here the pastor/churchman in Freeman comes to the surface: he wants to help 
Christians to grow in Christ. Frequently a chapter ends with his own contemplative 
poetry. 

The book has six major chapters. The first covers the life and history of 
Zinzendorf and the Moravian Church. Then five chapters summarize the Count's 
theology under such topics as the Knowledge of God; Scripture; Christ, the Spirit and 
the human predicament; Christian life and ethics; and the church. These chapters have 
extensive quotes from Zinzendorfs writings, since they are not readily available to 
English readers. There are many good insights into Moravian thought and practice, and 
difficult themes in Zinzendorf are put into helpful contexts. 

The book is difficult to read, however, and evaluation does not come easily. I 
found its historical sections to be the most lucid and thus the most beneficial. Thus the 



191 



Book Reviews 

introduction, chapters 1 and 6, and Appendix A (Outline of Zinzendorf s Life) were very 
helpful. Freeman has succeeded in making Zinzendorf accessible in his long quotations 
from his writings and in the sources indicated in the footnotes and bibliography. 
Scholars might well find this the greatest contribution of the book. 

As a theology of Zinzendorf, it is a disappointing book. Whether this is due to 
the unsystematic nature of Zinzendorf s theology or to Freeman's style of writing is not 
clear. One suspects it is both. On the latter question, a lot depends upon a reader's 
expectation. The author is true to his purpose in that he attempts to put Zinzendorf at 
the service of ecumenical Christianity and spiritual formation. But this raises a 
suspicion that we only have ''a part of Zinzendorf," and that the part that is presented 
might skew the whole. 

One cannot expect a systematic theology of Zinzendorf when that was not the 
nature of the man. But could we not have a historical theology of the Count? Freeman's 
expertise is in New Testament studies. This is manifested repeatedly in his chapter 
introductions and closing reflections. He then moves on to Zinzendorf s thought and 
concludes with the contemporary Moravian Church or modem religious questions he 
feels Zinzendorf might address. At times he compares Zinzendorf to thought currents 
of his times, but seldom are theological precedents prior to Zinzendorf engaged, nor 
developments between Zinzendorf and the modem period traced out. 1, for one, came 
away from the book feeling that 1 still do not understand many aspects of Zinzendorf s 
thought. 

Freeman has cut a new path for scholars. What is needed now are extensive 
translations of Zinzendorf s writings which are not yet available in English. Then 
others, especially those gifted in historical theology, might try their hand at giving the 
scholarly world a more adequate theology of Zinzendorf In spite of its many virtues, 
this book-in the estimation of the reviewer-has given us too much Freeman and too little 
Zinzendorf Luke L. Keefer, Jr. 

Abraham Friesen. Erasmus, the Anabaptists, and the Great Commission. William 
B. Eerdmans, 1998. 

This an extremely important and exciting book. The influence of Erasmus on the 
early Swiss Anabaptists — the circle initially influenced by Zwingli — and on Menno 
Simons has been the subject of scholarly research. But the line taken here by Friesen is 
to a large extent a new one. Although the book has a clear focus, at many points there 
are also new angles that illuminate the wider story of the Reformation. 

What Friesen argues is that the Anabaptist movement was deeply indebted to 
Erasmus for its interpretation of Christ's Great Commission to teach and then to baptize. 
In particular he shows that Erasmus's preface to his Greek New Testament, his 
paraphrase of the Great Commission and his annotations to the New Testament take us 
to the core of what became the Anabaptist understanding of believer's baptism and of 
mission. Erasmus asked how Christ's disciples understood and applied the Great 
Commission. This led him to the Acts of the Apostles and thus to the practice of the 
church. 

Much Anabaptist scholarship, which at times concentrates on the contrasts 
between Anabaptist thinking and other religious stands in the sixteenth century, will be 

192 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

given a fresh perspective through this study. Also, those who work in the are of 
Erasmian influence on the mainstream Reformation will have to take account of the ways 
in which Anabaptism, rather than Lutheranism, was the movement that (to adapt the 
image from the time) hatched the egg which Erasmus had previously laid. 

Abraham Friesen writes in an engaging way. His massive historical learning as 
a professor of Renaissance and Reformation history (at the University of California) is 
worn lightly. Despite the ideas presented being ground-breaking, there is nothing here 
that is inaccessible. This is a book which could be read by someone beginning 
Reformation studies but is also a challenging and thrilling read for those who have spent 
many years in the field. 

Nor is Frieson afraid to move from the historical to the contemporary. Thus the 
book can be read with great profit not only by historians but also by theologians and by 
those engaged in inter-confessional dialogue. For Friesen the Erasmian focus on 
teaching the central doctrines of the faith has the potential to bridge Catholic/Protestant 
divides. This certainly calls for the Anabaptist story to be seen in a new light. Indeed 
all those who want to study Anabaptism. for historical or for contemporary reasons, 
should engage with this book. Ian Randall. Spurgeon's College, London 

David T. Gouwens, Kierkegaard as Religious Thinker, New York: Cambridge 
University Press, 1996, ix-xv + 248 pp., $54.95 hb., $17.95 pb. 

David Gouwens in his work. Kierkegaard as Religious Thinker makes use of 
Kierkegaard's later religious writings and also includes his earlier philosophical works. 
He studies Kierkegaard's religious and theological work with the emphasis upon human 
nature. Christ and Christian discipleship. Gouwens enables the reader of his book to 
view Kierkegaard as a religious thinker because Kierkegaard himself saw religion as 
basic and central to his entire work. Kierkegaard himself sought to bring about religious 
response from his writings. 

Gouwens presents Kierkegaard as an advocate of genuine Christianity. Gouwens 
discusses Kierkegaard's treatment of religion with the focus upon the use of the dialectic 
of "becoming Christian". He discusses both the edifying discourses and the 
pseudonymous writings. 

The structure of Gouwens' study begins with Chapters 1-3 which form an 
introduction to some of Kierkegaard's central concerns as a religious thinker and 
Christian thinker. Chapter 1 examines Kierkegaard's diagnosis of certain diseases of 
reflection, especially those which deal with Western philosophical and theological 
tradition. 

Gouwens offers an outline of Kierkegaard's understanding of an alternative 
'"style" of "subjective thinking" in philosophy and religion. Chapter 2 examines how 
Kierkegaard proposes and practices this alternative kind of "reflection" that addresses 
these diseases. Gouwens focuses on Kierkegaard's anthropological reflection that 
interweaves psychological analysis and specifically Christian dogmatic concepts in a 
religious understanding of the self In this, Gouwens allows for a closer look at 
Kierkegaard's religious understanding of the self including moods, emotions and "stages 
on life's way" and also the Christian narrative understanding of the self. 



193 



Book Reviews 

Chapter 3 focuses on Kierkegaard's understanding of'becoming religious" which 
Gouwens sees in Kierlcegaard's use of the terms "up building" and "forming of the 
heart." Gouwens examines here Kierkegaard's vision of becoming religious, not in 
terms of mere "'feeling" or decision of the will but in the development of "personal 
emotional and ethico religious capacities." Gouwens shows how this links Kierkegaard 
more strongly with the virtue tradition in moral philosophy and theology. He 
demonstrates this over against the stereotype of the "existentialist Kierkegaard." (p.25- 
26) 

In Chapters 4-6, the author deals with Kierkegaard's treatment of religion. 
Gouwens focuses here on the Kierkegaardian dialectic of "becoming Christian" with 
particular attention to the relation between Christ and the believer. Particular emphasis 
is upon the relation between Christ and each of the three Christian virtues of faith, hope, 
and love. 

Chapter 4 looks specifically at Kierkegaard's anatomy of Christian faith as 
"disposition." Also, Gouwens here connects the concepts of grace and freedom, and 
Christology and soteriology in Kierkegaard. Gouwens continues the "dispositional" 
analysis of Christian existence in Chapter 5 by dealing with the Christian response to 
Christ in suffering and hope. Chapter 6 finishes the analysis of Christ and the Christian 
virtues by looking at Christian works of love. (p. 26) 

Gouwens in Chapter 7 deals with the theme of recent current scholarship in 
Kierkegaard on the question of the common interpretation of his thought as privatistic 
and asocial. Gouwens examines the later Kierkegaardian concept of how the 
"dispositional" virtue language of faith, hope, and love is altered. Gouwens addresses 
the development in his last years of the public role for Christian disciplineship as "the 
witness to the truth. "(p. 26). 

The author sees Kierkegaard situated between foundationalism and irrationalism. 
He sees Kierkegaard as an anticipation of the end of "modernity" while he stands at the 
center of the Christian tradition. 

Gouwens in his work presents an excellent and insightful study into Kierkegaard 
as religious thinker. This work is suited for the scholar of Kierkegaard and for persons 
interested in recent scholarly debate in the works of Kierkegaard. Gouwens advances 
the research of Kierkegaard in the area of moral philosophy and theology with this 
excellent book. It is highly recommended for Kierkegaardian scholarship and study. 

JoAnn Ford Watson 

D. Gibson, Avoiding the Tentmaker Trap, Hamilton, Ontario: WEC International, 
1997, 155 pp., $9.99. (WEC International, Lit. Dept., 37 Aberdeen Ave., Hamilton 
ON L8P 2N6, Canada). 

The arguments for missionary "tentmaking" have been numerous and compelling. 
As Paul sewed tents to help pay his own way to distant places to share the Gospel, so 
missionaries today could support themselves and avoid various hindrances of career 
missionary work. This would be the way to get into "closed countries" and bypass the 
long process of support raising, to say nothing of building rapport with business and 
professional people in other countries, and being able to follow the example of Paul and 
others in biblical times. 



194 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

D. Gibson has written a concise and very helpful book evaluating the tentmaking 
movement. He begins with a brief overview of modem missions history, and some of 
the reasons why tentmaking became important. He presents two models from scripture, 
which he calls the Pauline Model, and the Priscillan model, since Priscilla and Aquila 
also supported themselves while doing God's work in many different places. Various 
situations and agencies call for tentmakers with more emphasis on ministry and others 
with more time and focus on the job. Both models are commendable, though Gibson 
concludes: "Those following Paul's example may suffer Paul's experience of 'hard work, 
sleepless nights, and hunger' (2 Cor. 6:5) as they try to find time for both employment 
and ministry outside their jobs. . . . For Priscillan tentmakers there is the danger of 
assuming that, having gotten in and making a professional contribution, the job is over" 
(p. 38) . 

Gibson proceeds to give the theological foundations for tentmaking, a brief 
history of tentmaking and the rationale for tentmaking, and finally comes to the 
tentmaking traps. Although there was a wave of tentmakers between I960 and 1980, 
there are not many great success stories. The traps are: failure to learn the language and 
culture, difficulty in time management, lack of support networks, lack of Christian 
fellowship, stress with the expatriate community, inadequate or restricted housing, 
difficult adjustment of family, lack of security, poor preparation, lack of accountability, 
and breakdown of integrity. 

In spite of these drawbacks, there are creative solutions that make tentmaking not 
only do-able but very desirable in many situations. Gibson spells out the possibilities 
for developing networks, working with mission organizations, forming tentmaking 
corporations, working in partnerships, and working as tourists. He works through the 
issues of finding a job and choosing a partner organization, and discusses the experience 
of bombing out. His convincing conclusion is that tentmaking can be a very effective 
means of doing missions today. 

The clear and direct approach of this book makes it an encouraging source of 
information on tentmaking. Those questioning the validity of this model should expose 
themselves to the material in this practical little handbook. Gibson makes a convincing 
case for tentmaking as a means which God is using to increase His kingdom, and offers 
many sources of help for doing it effectively. Grace Holland 

Jimmy Long, Generating Hope: A Strategy for Reaching the Post Modern 
Generation, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997, 235 pp., $14.99. 

Over three decades ago a generation gap was created when baby boomers rejected 
the values of their parents. Now, however, Jimmy Long believes that Generation X will 
reject the baby boomers' "drive for the 'good life' as its main guiding principle" (22). 
Subsequently, Xers have adopted their own values and distinguishing characteristics. 
Moreover, Long explains that the dynamics of this generation go beyond traditional 
values and characteristics because society is also experiencing a major philosophical 
shift from the Enlightenment to a postmodern period. Long suggest that Xers are the 
first purely postmodern generation. In his book generating hope. Long engages the 
reader by asking: "How will the church respond to these changes?" ( 1 8) 



195 



Book Reviews 

The author is a regional director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and has 
contributed to the Small Group Leaders ' Handbook: The Next Generation. Long 
believes society is experiencing a tremendous upheaval where ''the Pillars of 'modem' 
western civilization erected during the Enlightenment are now crumbling.... We are now 
in a period of cultural lag—in which most people in the western world are not yet aware 
as scientist and philosophers that the Enlightenment is over." { 1 92) Long challenges the 
church to engage these changes, and suggests effective strategies in an effort to reach 
generation X with the gospel. In order to generate successful evangelism. Long clarifies 
the differences between boomers and Xers, and defines the characteristics of 
postmodernism. 

Long's primary strategy is building community through relationships. He believes 
that Xers value relationships and will find meaning in things that they experience in the 
community. Long explains that boomers prefer anonymity and are more globally 
focused, while Xers will tend to participate more and be more focused on local 
communities. In other words, "'boomers wanted to save the world, Xers want to make 
a difference in the neighborhood around them." (202) 

The concept of shame is key to Long. The focus of shame is not on being a sinner 
that needs justification, but one who has experienced the shame of being separated from 
God. Long explains this by using the story of Adam and Eve: 'Their awareness of their 
nakedness symbolized their awareness of their sinful state... Adam and Eve were now 
ashamed of their loss of unity with God and with each other, which was a vital part of 
who they were as complete person." (102) Long assumes that broken community is a 
major part of Xer's lives who have experienced broken promises from parents, friends 
and society. This context has made it difficult for Xers to have hope, so the church must 
be ready to enter into the pain and suffering this generation feels and offer a place for 
them to belong. 

Furthermore, the church must recognize the broader cultural shift to 
postmodernism. Community plays a vital role in this paradigm shift also. Long explains 
that the Modernist chased truth that could be proved and dogmatically stated. In 
contrast, Xers are asking is it real, and "need to see the incarnation of the gospel in 
people's lives more than to hear the proclamation through our words" (210). For 
successful evangelism, Xers must see truth lived out through their communities. 

The strength of this book is in Long's description of the intricate differences 
between the generations in light of the philosophical shift from the Enlightenment to 
Postmodernism. However, one ought to be aware of Long's perspective of those to 
whom he refers to as the Christian right. He sharply criticizes them and accuses them 
of hampering the spread of Christianity and creating an us-verses-them mentality. Those 
that support these Christian groups may be offended at his open attack against them. 

In spite of the hostilities, which are limited to a few pages, this book is enriching 
to read. It provides cutting edge insights into the Xer's generation and the move toward 
postmodernism. Long's innovative suggestions will help put evangelicals on the front 
line of a changing society where they can offer hope to Generation X. 

Kenneth L. Duffee 



196 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

Nick Pollard, Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult. Downers Grove: 
InterVarsity Press, 1997. Paper. 

Someone recently told me there is little hope for the youth of the present 
generation. They have no religious and moral foundation for living; everything is 
relative and there are no absolutes; they pick and choose what to believe; their 
worldview is distorted by the many options available in the present culture. They often 
are not aware of their worldview, yet moral, spiritual and social decisions are made 
based on it. Many people are unwilling to listen to the absolute claims of Jesus Christ 
because they are happy in the worldview they hold. In order to be impacted with the 
gospel of Jesus Christ in this cultural setting, one's worldview must be challenged to the 
point of discomfort. Being uncomfortable with one's worldview will create a potential 
to be open to hearing about Jesus, but change occurs slowly over time. 

Pollard shares his significant experience in working with youth on college and 
university campuses. He has spent years conducting long and deep open forum 
discussions with college students in student lounges. In this setting students have an 
opportunity to explore the claims of Christ for themselves. They are given the chance 
to question a Christian by grilling, arguing and presenting contrary ideas and thoughts. 
The objective is to learn the way people think in the postmodern era. Pollard and his 
staff show genuine love for students by being available as they think through their 
worldviews at their own speed. 

The book discusses the way people in the postmodern era think, and it illustrates 
methods of discussions and styles that promote thinking which clearly shows 
inadequacies in a value and belief system. Since many are unaware of their value 
system, this technique enables them to sort out the inconsistencies and false ideas they 
unintentionally believe. As students begin to think through their worldviews, they may 
begin to move one step closer to a desire to become acquainted with Jesus. Pollard calls 
this process "'positive deconstruction." This process also must apply to Christianity. 

The theme of the book is that evangelism is hard, but it can be made slightly less 
difficult. Understanding why evangelism is hard is the place to begin. In addressing the 
common reasons for hardship in this area. Pollard is quick to understand one's 
apprehensions, concerns and anxieties because he admits failure in some of the same 
areas. He gives excellent tried and proven logical solutions to the dilemmas experienced 
by the person engaged in witnessing or evangelizing. One example is that most people 
are not interested in an evangelistic campaign. It is better to trust God to provide 
opportunities, and to feel free to take advantage of them. People who are comfortable 
in general conversations often find witnessing opportunities opening up to them. Prayer 
is the key factor; any effort expended is futile without saturation in prayer. 

The author scientific research training is evident in the layout of the book, which 
is set up in a problem-solution format, arguing from cause to effect. This format enables 
him to examine the problems in detail and to effectively propose solutions. Within this 
format, the book is broken down into four parts. Each part addresses a particular 
problem. 

First, the problem of the postmodern, Post-Christian worldview is explored in 
detail. Pollard addresses the historical reasons behind the confused and convoluted 
worldviews people hold. The need is identified, and he addresses ways of helping 

197 



Book Reviews 

people who are happy in their present situation. In this section Pollard draws from the 
experience and knowledge he gleaned in listening to students over the years, identifying 
the worldviews that are characteristic of the postmodern post-Christian culture. His 
positive deconstruction solution is brilliant. 

The second problem is how to help people who want to know Jesus. Pollard 
provides the solution in the balance of the section. An excellent summary of the biblical 
themes and topics that could be easily committed to memory is provided. Discussion 
of these topics is theologically sound. Scriptural text is separated into themes. Pollard 
draws from his own experience in anticipating questions people will ask and in 
presenting very helpful answers. Storytelling is his preferred method of communication. 
He has mastered it well. 

Part three deals with the problem of apologetics. Although Pollard is a scientist, 
stories of his inadequacies in handling difficult and awkward situations illustrate his 
compassion and love for all people. Stories of errors give him credibility. Clear and 
specific illustrations and stories support the listed reasons that are given as guidelines. 
Excellent arguments and examples solidly support his answers to the reliability, 
consistency and origin of scripture issues. He gives a good logical approach to the issue 
of the Bible as history. Evidence issues are discussed with reasoned logic. 
Argumentation is solid and he draws a bottom line. His commitment to the integrity of 
scripture and the Christian life, and his respect for humanity are seen throughout this 
section in the illustrations and examples he uses. 

Part four discusses problems inherent in leading people to Christ. Illustrations 
from his experience make it easy to understand the relationship Pollard presents. His 
solution to the problem is that single method does not exist. Repentance and change are 
custom made to the needs of an individual. In keeping with the illustration pattern and 
logical argumentation that characterized the book. Pollard clearly explains and 
differentiates the change inherent in a personal relationship with Christ. That the human 
mind and human will are involved in the change is a key point. 

Pollard candidly points out in the Postscript that motivation for evangelism can 
run dry. Particularly this is true if motivation is based on results. The motivating factor 
that keeps one prepared at all times to witness is a passionate love for all people. This 
book reflects Pollard, not just his experience. 

This book is exceptionally well done. This is an excellent source for training 
people interested in doing personal evangelism. The enormity of experience this book 
contains would serve as a useful reference source for those engaged in ministry to 
educational institutions. This book is easily read and understood so it could be used 
with any age group older youth through adult. It would serve as an excellent course in 
evangelism for the local church. Phyllis J. Rhodes 

Walter Brueggemann, Cadences of Home: Preaching Among Exiles, Westminster/ 
John Knox Press: Louisville, Kentucky, 1997, pp. 155, $16.00. 

When the oldest shaman of the tribe declares, "I have a new story to tell," 
everyone gives full attention. So, when Walter Brueggemann, that grand dean of Old 
Testament studies, confides, "This book represents a heavy-duty rethinking for myself 
of the art and act of preaching," I, for one, am all ears. 

198 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

The world of homiletics has been buzzing and biting round the carcass of 
inductive preaching - the declaration of general truths applied to individual problems 
(the scientific method of the Enlightenment). Charles Rice, Eugene Lowrey, David 
Buttrick, and Fred Craddock have all pronounced half-hearted eulogies on the old gray 
mare, and ridden off on horses of different colors, or more accurately, shades of the same 
color. The new breed share the common markings of narrative and story, imagination 
and openness. 

Brueggemann rides the same pony, but does so with the grace and style of a 
different gait. Speaking from his rich background in biblical studies, he does a textual 
take on preaching in a post-modem, post-Christian world. The metaphor is "exile," an 
experience of "homelessness" for both the American church and culture. 

The exiled Jews, like today's American evangelicalism (both liberal and 
conservative), "...experienced the loss of the structured, reliable world which gave them 
meaning and coherence, and they found themselves in a context where their most 
treasured and trusted symbols of faith were mocked, trivialized, or dismissed." (p. 2) 
The marks of such an experience include deep sadness, rootlessness, despair and a 
profound sense of God's absence. If you can identify with life "by the waters of 
Babylon" (and this reviewer certainly can). Cadences of Home will comfort and 
challenge, disturb and inspire. 

In essence, preaching to "exiles" involves more than a shift in style; it requires a 
change in hermeneutic. He writes, "I do not believe that any single method of text 
interpretation is to be preferred to the exclusion of all others. I believe we must 
eclectically use all available methods, and that serious interpreters inevitably do. 
Nonetheless, the intentional embrace of rhetorical criticism seems to me especially 
important in a situation of a decentered community." (p. 58) He declares that the 
historical-critical method has its limitations and is particularly suited for upholding the 
establishment. However, exiles subvert the established order, and they do so with story, 
song, and imagination. Our Old Testament professor is calling for the practice of 
rhetorical criticism. 

Rhetorical criticism suggests that what is said in Scripture depends in large 
measure upon how it is said. Wonderful examples are given in the book: Isaac and 
Esau, Elijah and Elisha, Cyrus the gentile messiah, and the birth of Solomon. Such an 
understanding and expression of the text is more a matter of provocation than 
pronouncement, more daring in imagination than declarative of dogma, and thick with 
incongruities, for such is the life of exiles. 

I, personally, found the many examples of Scripture to be particularly helpful. 
Also, the expanded endnotes are useful to someone straining to keep up with the vast 
literature that undergirds the study. The theme of the exiled or decentered church is 
explored in the meaning of the text, in preaching as testimony, in evangelism, and as a 
model of the church. The book concludes with a challenge to be "exiles" with all the 
daring disciplines that open our hearts to a newness of God's presence. 

One could argue that there is a bit of choppiness in the book, due, perhaps, to the 
fact that several of the chapters were written for different publications over a period of 
seven or eight years. I came away with the sense that each chapter could be expanded 
into a book in its own right (in places it is a bit like drinking from the proverbial 
firehose). 

199 



Book Reviews 

However, I cannot help but imagine that this is the first telling of the story, the 
first cohesive expression of the theme. It is the medicine for our experience. 1, for one, 
request, "Say it again, we need to hear more." Richard Parrott 

Jung Young Lee, Korean Preaching: An Interpretation, Nashville, TN: Abingdon 
Press, 1997, 150 pp., $14.95. 

The meaning of the words was unintelligible to me, but the significance of the 
emotional tenor was unmistakable. I had given a copy of Jung Young Lee's book, 
Korean Preaching: An Interpretation, to a homiletics class I was conducting in the city 
of Sok-cho', about 200 miles east of Seoul. The animation of the discussion lead me to 
believe that Lee had critiqued his own book correctly: "My intent here is to offer a 
critical study of Korean preaching, which may arouse controversy among some Korean 
ministers, and suspicion among white American ministers." (p. 10) 

Jung Young Lee was professor of Systematic Theology at Drew Theological 
Seminary in Madison, New Jersey. He has also authored a book of sermons and a book 
on the Trinity from an Asian perspective. The Koreans in my class knew of him. The 
discussion of the book was lively. My translator summarized the classes conclusion for 
me, "They think he (Lee) asks the right questions, but they do not like his answers." 

Lee deals with the question of preaching and context. After outlining the rationale 
for his book, he looks at the cultural context of the Korean congregation. Shamanism, 
Buddhism, and Confucianism are deep dynamics that "still live in the hearts of the 
Korean people." (p. 29) Lee goes on to detail his interaction with these religious forms: 
participating in shamanic rituals; studying Buddhism at the Haein Temple; and 
celebrating Ch'u-sok, the national day of ancestor worship. 

Lee characterizes Korean culture as "basically syncretic." (p. 37) From this 
stance, he critiques the Christian church as having rejected many cultural resources due 
to an exclusive approach toward other religions. Korean protestanism is an outward 
rejection of other religious forms. Lee contends that such a posture is rejecting what it 
means to be Korean. He observes: "However, no matter how much we want to cut 
ourselves off from our heathenish religious traditions, we can never be completely free 
of them. We are products of our past. Our attempt to be free from our past is merely an 
attempt to escape reality. Thus, our so-called heathenish traditions have been 
unconsciously integrated into our Christian life." (p. 138) 

This theme is played out in an investigation of the Korean worship service and 
distinctives of Korean preaching where Lee believes that Shamanism and Buddhism are 
strong dynamics. He also opens the door to the pastors' possible misuse of authority 
where the Confucianistic ideal holds sway. For the Korean pastors' homiletic class in 
the sea resort of Sok-Cho', this was fuel for debate. I agree with my Korean friends, Lee 
asks the right questions, but his answers are not fully acceptable to me. 

For me, the book had two values: a tantalizing introduction to the Korean church 
and an opportunity to view the issue of Christ and culture as a more distant observer. 
1 found myself challenged with the pluralism vs. exclusivism of Lee's analysis and 
wanted to test his thoughts with Koreans. Further, I found myself testing the question 
in my own culture. To paraphrase Lee, our so-called "westemish" traditions have been 
unconsciously integrated into our Christian life. 

200 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

Korean Preaching begins as an invitation to Americans to understand the Korean 
church but ends as an agenda addressed to Korean pastors. I read the book from the 
beginning as an American seeking to understand the Korean church but ended up 
reconsidering my own agenda concerning the question of Christ and Culture. 

Richard Parrott 

Frank J. Houdek. Guided by the Spirit: A Jesuit Perspective on Spiritual Direction. 
Loyola Press, 1996. 

There are now many books on spiritual direction and a review of a book which 
deals with this area has to take that into account. Does Houdek's book offer something 
distinctive? The chapter headings seem fairly standard and at first sight there is nothing 
particularly new. Houdek deals with the directee and the process of spiritual growth, 
some particular types of directees and their needs, prayer and spiritual discernment, and 
the director and the process of direction. 

There are, however, insights which are fresh and stimulating within this book. 
There is a welcome balance between personal stories and wider contemporary analysis. 
What, then, are the main advantages for the reader? 

In the first place. Guided by the Spirit certainly springs from considerable 
practical experience. Frank Houdek draws from over thirty years of work in the field of 
spiritual direction. This gives the book a realism which is most welcome. There are no 
superficial answers or trite suggestions here. Having said that, I wondered at one or two 
points whether the spiritual journey was being understood in too rigid a way. 

A second important aspect of the book is that it is written from a Jesuit point of 
view. That does not mean that it is narrow in its perspective. Rather, what we find again 
and again here is the wisdom of a long tradition. Houdek acknowledges his own 
personal limitations and does not try to make his own story normative. Instead he points 
to ways in which each director can learn from the broader stream of experience. 

What I found most helpful, however, was the way that diversity was addressed. 
In Houdek's approach there is no formula which is applied to each individual, regardless 
of the point they have reached on their journey. Not only is the uniqueness of each 
individual stressed, but the action of the Holy Spirit — in all his freedom — is seen as been 
at the heart of direction. The title of the book is highly significant. Linked with this 
concentration on the Spirit, I warmed to the way prayer was given such a central place. 

Although the Jesuit background is evident, those from a very different tradition 
who are exploring spiritual direction will find this book a valuable resource. 

Ian Randall, Spurgeon's College, London, England 
International Baptist Theological Seminary, Prague 



201 



Book Reviews 

Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop, translators. Creation and Christ. Paulist 

Press, 1996. 

Regis J. Armstrong and Ignatius C. Brady, translators. True Joy. Paulist Press, 

1996. 

Edmund Colledgeand Bernard McGinn, translators. Everything as Divine. Paulist 

Press, 1996. 

These three booklets are published in the same format. Each is between eighty 
and ninety pages in length. The small page size means that the books can be slipped into 
a pocket and easily read, for example, on journeys. 

The intention of these booklets must be borne in mind. They contain short 
selection from classics of spirituality. Creation and Christ offers extracts from the 
wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen, one of the greatest mystics of the church. There is an 
introduction, but it is brief and not designed to be critical. The selection is from 
Hildegard's Scivias — a title which is short for "Know the Ways of the Lord'. Her call 
to write this, in 1 141, came about through "a fiery light of exceeding brilliance". The 
topics covered here, which reflect the profound visions that Hildegard received, are the 
greatness and majesty of God, creation and fall, and Christ as Redeemer. 

The aptly-title True Joy is a sample of the writings of Francis and Clare. There 
is a useful brief introduction to the life of Saint Francis. This is followed by his 
"Admonitions" and by such famous poems as his "Canticle of Brother Sun". The 
material included certainly captures something of the spiritual vitality of Francis, but 
because he was a man of action his own writings were limited. This is even truer of 
Clare. Accordingly, in the part of the book dealing with Clare more space is given to a 
description of her life. Her "Testament" is then reproduced. Those who are looking for 
a way to begin to read about the great mission from Assisi could start with this booklet, 
but might be better to read The Little Flowers of St. Francis. 

The third booklet. Everything is Divine, contains the wisdom of Meister Eckhart, 
an outstanding Dominican friar who was born around the year 1260. True to his 
tradition, Meister Eckhart was a preacher. Part I of this book includes material from 
twenty-one different counsels which Eckhart gave young Dominicans, under the general 
heading "On Discernment". With his idea of God flowing through the world and with 
his refusal to be bound by reason over against mystery (which went beyond standard 
Dominican thinking), Eckhart has much to give to contemporary spirituality. 

Ian Randall 

Millard J. Erickson and James L. Heflin, Old Wine in New Winesliins., Grand 
Rapids: Baker Books, 1997, 269 pp., $19.95. 

In their book. Old Wine In New Wineskins, Erickson and Heflin recognize the 
changing face of the contemporary church where methods of worship and outreach are 
finding new expressions in an effort to reach an ever changing world. The authors 
support and encourage this change: however, they observe that as the church strives to 
adapt, the role of doctrinal preaching has declined. The authors support a stronger role 
for this discipline which they feel is essential to a vital church. They provide evidence 



202 



Ashland TheologicalJournal 31 (1999) 

to support their view of the benefits of doctrinal preaching as well as offer practical 
guidance concerning the techniques of creatively exegeting and contextualizing doctrine. 

The experiences of Millard J. Erickson and James L. Heflin compliment each 
other in this book. Erickson is a professor of theology at Baylor University's Truett 
Seminary and at Western Seminary, Portland. His books include, Christian Theology, 
God in Three Persons, and The Word Became Flesh. Heflin has formerly taught 
homiletics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has co-authored 
Proclaiming the Word. Both authors wrestle with what Erickson calls "the problematic 
status of preaching today." (13). 

In their academic settings, the authors are aware that some scholars believe that 
preaching is irrelevant due to the changing ways people listen. Attention spans have 
become shorter, learning has become more visually oriented, and people expect to 
participate more. Old style preaching can be passive and appear to the contemporary 
person as authoritarian. However, they maintain their stance on the importance of 
preaching as a biblical mandate, and believe that doctrinal preaching can transcend 
cultural changes to provided foundational support for the church during this time of 
change. 

The authors believe that doctrine is essential to our relationship with God and 
definitive of the Christian church. It is prominent in the Bible and in Church history. 
Effective doctrinal preaching provides stability and identity to the church. With many 
contemporary churches focusing upon being "consumer friendly", there is an ever 
present danger the church will lose its uniqueness. The authors consider the 
consequences of other religions becoming consumer friendly by emphasizing experience 
and personal health? They inquire, how will one distinguish the doctrines of other 
religions from that of Christianity if the contemporary church has failed to teach the 
difference? 

The authors believe that doctrine is found throughout the Bible, and they provide 
ample descriptions of exegetical techniques. These techniques focus on the didactic and 
narrative passages and help the reader transform doctrine from the original situation to 
a practical contemporary meaning. They suggest effective ways to utilize expository 
preaching through creative use of topical preaching, narrative preaching, and dramatic 
preaching. This book also includes chapters on planning, strategizing, and ways to 
assess congregational needs. 

The authors do an excellent job of communicating some very difficult cultural 
nuances resulting from changes in our society today. They confront controversial issues 
with optimism and courage. This book is for preachers and those involved in Christian 
missions who are concerned with the lack of doctrine being promoted in contemporary 
worship. The book's wide variety of expository techniques and preaching methods will 
adapt to many styles and situations. This flexibility allows the articulation of doctrine 
to continue in an era of dynamic change, and, thus, prevent the church from losing its 
identity as it adapts to a new world. Kenneth L. Duffee 



203 



Book Reviews 

Philip E. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997, 
pp. 131, pb. 

This book is a passionate and articulate attack, on materialistic naturalism, 
especially as expressed in various aspects of society in the USA. The author sees the 
lynch-pin of this dominant ideology is the Darwinian theory of evolution. Given this 
starting point, Johnson's strategy for defeating materialistic naturalism is to defeat 
Darwinism, and his method is to 'open minds'. 

In attempting to 'open minds' Johnson has good things to say about exposing the 
weaknesses in the arguments used to support a materialistic and naturalistic 
interpretation of evolution in his chapter 'Turning Up Your Baloney Detector'. He also 
makes some valid points in the chapter 'A Real Education in Evolution', though this is 
spoilt by some superficial arguments. For example, that there are different opinions 
about the mechanism of evolution does not show that the theory is in trouble - only that 
the mechanism is more complex than Darwin thought. Johnson is unaware of the work 
on 'selector genes' which is opening up a new way of understanding the mechanism, 
which can include the existing insights. 

If Johnson means what he says about opening minds, he will not mind me turning 
my 'baloney detector' on his book. He says that when people here the word 'evolution' 
in television science programs their baloney detectors should display "Snow Job Alert". 
The same should be true when you read the word 'evolution' in his book. His constant 
assumption that it is inseparable from a materialistic naturalism is untrue both 
historically and philosophically. A.R. Wallace, who arrived at the theory of evolution 
by natural selection independently of Darwin and at about the same time, believed in a 
directive divine mind behind the process. D. Livingstone' has shown that in the late 19th 
century many conservative evangelical scholars, especially those in the Reformed 
tradition, had no difficulty in accepting evolution as the method God used in bringing 
living creatures into existence. Johnson implies that such a view is inevitably deistic. It 
is not. The Reformed scholars understood God as upholding, and working through, all 
the processes of nature -not as 'a remote First Cause who establishes the scientific laws 
and thereafter leaves nature to its own devices' (p. 1 6). 

In fact, Johnson's view of God's relationship to nature seems to be a semi-deistic 
one. The book is pervaded by the assumption that belief in God as Creator (which he 
calls belief in 'intelligent design') is only possible if there are aspects of living organisms 
which scientists cannot explain. This is theologically unsound for three reasons. Firstly, 
it is a form of semi-deism. Parts of nature are apparently 'left to their own devices' (so 
he accepts microevolution), while in other parts God has had to intervene to do things 
which nature could not if 'left to its own devices'. Secondly, it implies a semi-competent 
God, one who could not design a world in which 'things can make themselves' . A more 
biblical view (prompted, for example, by Ps. 104) is a thorough-going theism which 
sees God as the transcendent Creator who is also intimately involved in his creation 
moment by moment, upholding and working thorough the laws he has put in place. In 
this view the processes of nature are seen as the seamless cloth of the Creator's activity. 
Thirdly, Johnson's project flies in the face of Jesus' example. He seems to want to prove 
the existence of a Creator by producing evidence of supernatural acts of creation. When 



204 



Ashland Theological Journal 31 (1999) 

Jesus was asked (on three occasions) to prove who he was by doing some supernatural 
'sign', he refused. 

Johnson's argument is also scientifically unsound. He relies heavily on the work 
of the biochemist Michael Behe^ who claims that certain biochemical systems are 
'irreducibly complex', i.e. they are made up of many parts that interact in complex ways, 
and all the parts need to work together. Hence, he finds it incredible that they could have 
come into existence by a gradual process, such as Darwinian evolution requires. In his 
book Behe castigates biochemists for not attempting evolutionary explanations for such 
systems, implying this is because none are possible. Here he is wrong, because work has 
been done on some of these systems, as Cavalier-Smith points out in his review of 
Behe's book in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Vol.12, 1997. This reliance on 
'irreducibly complex systems may well turn out to be another example of the 'God of the 
gaps' apologetic that will back-fire. As the gaps in scientific knowledge close, so the 
need for God will seems to disappear again. 

Much is made by Johnson, quite rightly, of the difference between 'information' 
and the material substrate that conveys it. He is right to stress that the rise of meaningful 
information by a meaningless process it is a major problem for materialistic naturalism. 
However, the input of such information into a natural process does not necessarily 
require that there be gaps in it, as he seems to assume. The proposals of John 
Polkinghome and Arthur Peacocke regarding how God may act in the world through the 
input of 'active information' show this"*. 

Basically, Johnson's strategy is misguided. Rather than trying to discredit 
materialistic naturalism by attacking evolution, he should attack it directly. True, 
evolution is used by some to prop up their materialistic naturalism, but the answer to that 
is to show how evolution can be understood with the context of a thorough-going 
Christian theism. 

Endnotes 
' D. Livingstone, Darwin 's Forgotten Defenders, Eerdmans, 1987. 
' To quote a phrase used by Archbishop Frederick Temple in Bampton Lectures of 
1885. 

^ M. Behe, Black Box, Free Press, 1996. 
" See J. Polkinghome, Scientists as Theologians, SPCK, 1996, 36f 

Ernest C. Lucas, Bristol Baptist College, England 

Siang-Yang Tan, Managing Chronic Pain, Downer's Grove: InterVarsity Press, 
1996. 130 pp., paper, $9.99. 

Pain is a puzzling problem that can serve as a "gift" in warning us of more serious 
physical problems or in helping us to grow spiritually and emotionally. 

The introduction to this book contains definitions of numerous types of pains, 
from chronic headaches to terminal illness, and their control by a variety of methods. 
The various kinds of pain and their control is illustrated by case studies and statistics. 



205 



Book Reviews 

Pain control by prescribed or non-prescription medication is widely practiced and 
available. The major method for pain control— medical, surgical, and spiritual-could be 
used as strategies for coping with pain more effectively. 

A modified life style is also recommended if you are overworked. Proper 
nutrition without overeating is important for healthy living. Challenging and changing 
distorted thinking leads to living more effectively with your condition and learning to 
cope better with the symptoms of pain. 

Specially gifted Christians have the spiritual gift of healing apart from the use of 
natural means. We can pray for physical and inner healing as part of the ministry to 
which Jesus has called us, without forgetting the primacy of finding salvation through 
accepting Jesus as personal Savior. 

You can pray for your problem with the right motive of seeking his will for you, 
without demanding anything. If God chooses not to heal you, you have to submit 
yourself to God's will with trust that God knows best and all things work for your good 
(Rom. 8:28). 

Having enough faith does not guarantee physical healing. Christian meditation 
is not only detachment from the world but also attachment to the Word of God. finding 
meaning for suffering. 

God can use pain to discipline us, but his love remains changeless. Sometimes 
pain is part of God's pruning work to produce more spiritual fruit. On other occasions 
suffering and pain are used to bring blessing and salvation to others. 

You can grow spiritually and develop mature character as a result of suffering. 
God will remain with you in this world full of pain and all things will work for your 
good. Nothing can separate us. not even pain, from the love of Jesus Christ. 

Zoltan Kiraly, Lakeland, FL 



206 



Ashland Theological Seminary 

910 Center Street 
Ashland, Ohio 44805 




Morgan Library 
Grace College and Seminary 
2000 Seminary Dr 
Winona Lake IN 46590 



ISSN: 1044-6494 




i 



¥ 



Ashland 

Theological 

Journal 



Ashland Theological Seminary 
Ashland, Ohio 2000 



ISSN: 1044-6494 
Ashland Theological Seminary 
Ashland, Ohio 

ASHLAND THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 

2000 

CONTENTS 

Revelation 7:9-17: The Innumerable Crowd before the One 

upon the Throne and the Lamb 1 

Russell Morton 

The Changing Gospel 13 

Luke Keefer 

Fixing Boundaries: The Construction of Identity in Joshua 21 

L. Daniel Hawk 

1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way 
to a New Heritage 33 

David A. deSilva 

Church History Experienced: A Tour of United Kingdom and 
Ireland 53 

William D. Meyer 

Transformational Leadership: Theory and Reflections 63 

Richard Parrott 

Helpful Worldwide Web Sites 77 

Book Reviews 83 

Journal articles are indexed in Elenchus of Biblica, New Testament Abstracts, Old 
Testament Abstracts, Religious and Theological Abstracts, and Religion Index One; 
reviews are indexed in Index to Book Reviews in Religion. The latter two indices, 
published by ATLA, 820 Church Street, Evanston, Illinois 60201, are also available 
online through BRS Information Technologies, DIALOG Information Services and 
Wilsonline. Views of contributors are their own and do not necessarily express those 
endorsed by Ashland Theological Seminary. 

VOLUME XXXII 

Published and copyright held by Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, Ohio, 44805. 

Printed in the USA. 



This beautiful autumn makes one rejoice in God's good creation, 
that of the physical world in which we live, and also the 
interpersonal one of relationships. Each year as an institution we 
are amazed anew at the grace of God in bringing new people, 
faculty, staff, administration, and most especially students, into 
our lives, for the enrichment of each one of us, and for the 
furtherance of God's kingdom. Thanks be to God. 

This issue highlights the Seminary community by drawing on it 
for all major articles. We appreciate contributions from librarian, 
faculty, administration, and a MACPC student, William Meyer, 
who has completed his M.Div. degree here at Ashland. I trust that 
the mixture of academic and practical, biblical and theological, 
past and future oriented will provide support for your ministry, 
challenge for your mind, and most of all, encouragement for your 
soul. May you experience God's blessing in all things. 

David W.Baker 
November 13, 2000 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Revelation 7:9-17: The Innumerable Crowd Before the One Upon the 
Throne and the Lamb* 

Russell Morton* 

Having survived the dire predictions of the so-called "Turn of the 
Millennium," which doesn't actually begin until 2001, relatively unscathed, 
perhaps it is time to reconsider John's message in Revelation. This is especially 
so in light of all the irresponsible excesses of some who managed to combine 
a gross misunderstanding of the nature of biblical prophecy in general, and 
apocalyptic in particular, with the more extreme warnings about the dangers of 
"Y2K.^" Thus, we were inundated with predictions by cable preachers, and 
even cable channels, such as The Learning Channel, about how the so called 
turn of the millennium will usher in a new and more dreadful age. In 2000 the 
prophecies of Revelation or Nostradamus or Joe Prophet will be fulfilled, with 
great earthquakes, terrors, and even, perhaps before the year is out, the return 
of the Lord. 

Yet do these people recall the explicit statement of Jesus in Mk 13:32, 
that neither the angels nor the Son of Man know the day or the hour of Christ's 
return? Are they also oblivious to Acts 1 :7, where Jesus tells his disciples that 
it is not for them to know that day and hour that the kingdom is restored to 
Israel? Is this why they also grossly misrepresent the nature of biblical 
prophecy itself? For they substitute a concept of prophecy more suitable to the 
views of ancient astrologers, where it titillates the curiosity or provides a guide 
map through the future, for the biblical idea of proclamation of God's word to 



*Russell Morton (M.Div., Western Evangelical Seminary; Th.M., TL.D., 
Lutheran School of Theology) is Research Librarian at ATS. 



\ 



' A revision of an address originally delivered in the chapel of Ashland 
Theological Seminary Oct. 25, 1999. Quotations of the New Testament are my 
own translation. 

^Incidentally, one might notice that it seems the more people are into predicting 
the end of the world, the more they employ "techno-speak" rather than plan 
English, talking of "Y2K" rather than the "Year 2000," as if computerize gives 
them credibility. 



Revelation 7:9-17: The Innumerable Crowd Before the One Upon the Throne 

inform the life of the community. Thus, John's concern, to provide a word of 
comfort in the expectation of persecution,^ is ignored. 

The result is that the power of the Apocalypse is undermined. We are 
not exposed to its true message, which calls upon readers or hearers to decide 
between two opposing and irreconcilable claims. Will the readers submit to the 
rule of God and the Lamb, or will they be deceived by the vile parody of divine 
authority represented by Rome? Will they be a people who live in radical 
obedience to God, or will they perish with the rest of humanity? In the course 
of his vision, John provides us with a glimpse into heaven, of which Rev 7:9- 
17, like chs. 4-5 is an instance. As in the earlier chapters, John uses imagery 
derived from imperial court ritual, with its ceremony of universal acclamation, 
to indicate that, for the Christian, there can be no compromise. When we 
carefully observe these verses, especially in comparison with the claims of 
those who follow the Beast in Rev. 13 as well as the fate of those who accept 
the sign of the Beast in chs. 16 and 19, we find that while the bliss of the saints 
is described, something more is also at work. These verses are nothing less 
than subversive. They call upon readers to decide who is God. In this respect, 
they are of vital relevance for us today, when we are confronted with the 
idolatry of the state, or of consumerism, or of an ever-increasing GDP. These 
verses remind us that sovereignty ultimately belongs to God and the Lamb, and 
it is only as we are shepherded by the Lamb that we find our true rest. To 
accomplish this task, John: ( 1 ) employs common themes throughout Revelation 
to emphasize his message; (2) uses court ritual to show that whatever Rome and 
Caesar demand illegitimately belongs to God and Christ by right; and (3) 
reverses the usual standards of victory and defeat, to show that only in 
accepting the vocation of the Lamb of God are the people of God able to 
triumph and attain a secure place in God and Christ's eternal Kingdom. 

John Uses Common Themes in Revelation to Emphasize His Message . 

Rev 7 constitutes an interlude between the opening of the sixth seal in 
6:12-17 and the seventh seal in Rev. 8:1-5. In this interlude, two scenes are 
described, the sealing of the 144,000 in Rev. 7:1-8, and the great multitude 



^ I agree with A. Yarbro Collins in Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the 
Apocalypse (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 70, that, while John anticipates an 
impending persecution, at present there is not enough evidence to conclude that 
such persecution occurred in the reign of Domitian. Rather, John reflects the 
expectation of persecution more than persecution itself. 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

worshiping the One Sitting upon the throne and the Lamb in Rev. 7:9-17. 
Scholars are divided as to whether these are two distinct groups, or the same 
people described in different ways."* We need not concern ourselves with these 
somewhat arcane issues here. What is to be noticed is that throughout ch. 7 the 
reader or hearer is referred to both what precedes and what follows. The 
144,000 of Rev. 7: 4-8 are referred to again in Rev 14:1-5.^ Likewise, the 
sealing of the saints in Rev. 7:2-3 is demonically imitated or parodied by the 
Beast in Rev 13:16. In the same way, the great multitude before the throne of 
God and the Lamb is described earlier in Rev 5:9.^ Furthermore, just as the 
great multitude of 7:10 standing before the heavenly throne proclaim 
"Salvation," or, more accurately, "Victory,"^ so we find a blasphemous echo in 
the acclamation of the nations in 13:4. When they behold the healing of one of 
the heads of the beast, they worship the dragon, and call out, "Who is similar 



"* Those who say that these are two different groups include: R. W. Wall, 
Revelation (NIBC; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991) 118; G. R. Beasley- 
Murray, The Book of Revelation (NCBC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 
139-140; W. Bousset, Die Qffenbarung Johannis (KEK; Gottingen: 
Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1906), 287-290; D. E. Aune; Revelation (WBC 
52; Dallas: Word, 1997-1999), 447. Among the scholars who hold that the two 
groups are identical are: I T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John: Studies in 
Introduction With a Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1967, cl919), 540; J. Roloff, Revelation (CC; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 
1993), 98; R.C. Charles, A Criticial and Exegetical Commentary on the 
Revelation of St. John , vol. 1 (ICC; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1920) 201 (where 
the innumerable multitude are the martyrs, who were sealed when alive in 7:4- 
8); G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1999), 426-430. 

' That they are likely the same group, see Charles, 1:202-203; Aune. 
Revelation , 460; Beale, 416-423. 

^- R. Bauckham. The Climax of Prophecy (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1993), 215; 
D. Aune, " The Influence of Roman Imperial Court Ceremonial on the 
Apocalypse of John," BR 28 (1983) 5-26); Beal, 426, etc. 

' W. Foerster, "ocoCw, ktA," TDNT , 7:997-998; G. B. Caird, The Revelation 
of St. John the Divine (HNTC; New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 100; Aune, 
Revelation6-16 . 470. 



Revelation 7:9-17: The Innumerable Crowd Before the One Upon the Throne 

to the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?" Yet, it is not the beast 
that is triumphant and victorious. It is the Lamb who conquers, and is the true 
benefactor of his followers. 

In short, John, speaking to the readers of his day, demonstrates that the 
rule of the beast, far from being impressive, is merely a sham. It gains its 
credibility only to the extent that it imitates the true victory of God and Christ. 
Like the Lamb who was slain in ch 5, one of the heads of the beast is as slain 
to death, but is healed. As the heavenly multitude adores the Lamb in chs 5 and 
7, so the inhabitants of the earth follow after the sign of the healing of the head 
of the beast. Yet, the true domain of each is demonstrated in John's 
description. The Lamb and God inhabit heaven. Their reign is eternal. The 
beast is earthly, inspired by the dragon which emerges from the sea, which 
symbolizes chaos.* Likewise, the nations share the fate of the beast, which is 
ultimately cast into the lake of fire, along with its lord, the Devil (Rev 20:7-9). 
On the other hand, the description of the saints in Rev. 7: 10, 13 anticipates their 
participation in the victory of the Rider in Rev. 19: 11-16. In both cases the 
clothing of the heavenly multitude is described as white, which in Revelation 
is not so much the color of purity as it is of victory and conquest.^ 
Furthermore, the Lamb in 7: 17 and the rider in 19: 15 are said to shepherd their 
people. Thus, the Lamb is identified with the victorious Rider, who bears the 
title "King of Kings and Lord of Lords," which the Roman emperor, 
represented in the figure of the beast, ascribes to himself 

Yet, the contrast between the fate of the victorious saints in heaven 
and the earth bound worshippers of the beast does not end here. In Rev. 7:16 
we see the promise of Isa. 49: 10 quoted, that the followers of the Lamb, "will 
not hunger, nor will they thirst nor will the sun fall upon them nor any heat." 
This picture contrasts sharply with the portrayal of the fourth bowl in Rev. 
16:8-9, where the sun is struck and bums the inhabitants of the earth, who then 
blaspheme the name of God. In short, in both their devotion to God and in their 
fate the saints are contrasted with those who refuse to acknowledge God and 
Christ. 



* See A. Yarbro Collins, The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation (HDR 
9; Missoula: Scholars Press, 1976). 

^ See the description of the first horse and rider in Rev. 6:2. Also see, D.L. 
Barr, Tales of the End: A Narrative Commentary on the Book of Revelation 
(Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press, 1998) 9, 74. 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Yet, while there is much in Rev. 7:9-17 that is echoed in other parts 
of the Apocalypse, John also uses other imagery, which eludes many of today's 
readers. The reason is because John incorporates imagery from court ritual to 
demonstrate further that all that Rome claims illegitimately belongs to God and 
Christ by right. Thus, Rome's pomp and ceremony is achieved only through 
borrowing and misusing scenes of heavenly splendor. Readers are, therefore, 
reminded not to be deceived by majesty of Rome, for they serve an even more 
magnificent Lord. John's use of this imagery will now be discussed briefly. 

Use of Court Ritual 

In both Rev 5 and 7 John incorporates imagery, which would have 
been very familiar to those who knew court ritual, especial in cities like 
Ephesus and Pergamum, where the imperial cult was especially strong. '° At the 
same time, it was not unusual for rulers to be acclaimed as gods in the eastern 
Mediterranean, especially in Hellenistic cities." This status was ascribed to 
victorious Roman generals, and likewise was bestowed upon visiting Roman 
emperors.'^ Thus, John, as well as his readers, would have been in a position 
to have witnessed this ritual in the context of civic life in Asia Minor. It is, 
therefore, no accident that the Seer picks up such imagery in his description of 
the heavenly court. By so doing he directs the focus of his readers or hearers 
away from the pomp of civic ceremony, which makes such strong claims upon 
believers, but with which he allows no compromise.'^ Participation in the trade 



'°See R.E. Oster, "Ephesus," ABD 2:544-545; on Pergamum see Aune, 
Revelation . 180-181. 

" D. E. Aune, "The Influence of Imperial Court Ceremonial on the Book of 
Revelation," L6. 

'' Ibid. 

'^ See John's condemnation of "Jezebeel" (2:20-23) in the letter to Thyatira, 
and those holding to the teaching of Balaam (2:14-15) in the letter to 
Pergamum. See Yarbro Collins, Crisis and Catharsis , 87-88, as well as W.M. 
Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1985, 
C1904), 298-301. 



Revelation 7:9-17: The Innumerable Crowd Before the One Upon the Throne 

guilds, which require some allegiance to the patron deities or imperial cult, is 
ruled out.'^ 

There are two aspects of our verses, which, in particular, are 
reminiscent of imperial court ritual. First, the Seer observes that a great 
multitude from every nation standing before the divine throne. This imagery 
is similar to the concept of universal consensus, whereby the Roman emperor, 
upon accession, is bestowed a certain legitimacy. As representative of the 
empire, the acclamation of an emperor by the senate was considered the 
acclamation of all the peoples of the empire. This feature is also demonstrated 
on imperial coins, especially those of Nero, which in the last year of his reign 
bore the inscription, which translated means, "The security of the people of 
Rome."'^ This claim, and others like it, are shown in 7:9-10 to be a 
blasphemous parody of the saints' acclamation of, "Victory to our God sitting 
upon the Throne and to the Lamb." Security, ultimately, is not found in the 
person of the emperor, but in God and Christ. 

Furthermore, the senatorial ceremony of universal acclamation is 
shown to be a sham imitation of the true glory given to God and the Lamb. 
While the senate pretends to bestow universal acclamation to the emperor, God 
and the Lamb actually receive it, from every nation and tribe and people and 
tongue. Rome may have incorporated and conquered many peoples, but their 
numbers fade into insignificance in comparison with the even greater multitude 
which proclaim their victory in God and Christ. 

Another aspect of imperial court ritual echoed in our text is also found 
in4:8, 11;5:9-10; 11:15 and elsewhere. That is the hymn of praise to God and 
Christ given by the multitude. As early as Julius Caesar, "claims to divinity and 
encouragement of divine honors were part of the imperial program."'^ While 
few such acclamations survive, it does appear that Roman emperors, borrowing 
from the ceremonies of the Greek rulers of Asia Minor, used hymns with 
antiphonal responses.'^ We find a similar phenomenon in Rev. 7:9-12. In 7: 10, 
there is the acclamation of victory, similar to that at the emperor's accession to 
the throne. In Rev. 7:12, there is the response. By this means the Seer shows 



''* See, Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches , 346-353. 

'^ Aune, "Imperial Court Ritual," 18-19. 

'^ Ibid., 16. 

"' Aune, Revelation , 316. 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

that for Christians, their allegiance and loyalty belongs not to the blasphemous 
claims of the emperor or Rome, but to the Creator of the Universe, and his 
designated agent who has achieved victory. Rome and Caesar claim 
illegitimately what belongs only to God and Christ by right. The people of God 
are called to recognize this fact, and act accordingly, by not submitting to 
imperial claims. 

Yet, if Christians are challenged to recognize that their Lord is not 
Caesar, but the true victor, Christ, so too are they challenged to redefine the 
character of victory. Is it to be understood in the militaristic terms of Rome? 
Is it triumphal? Or is it something else? Just as John demonstrates that the 
claims of Rome are false, and but a sham and demonic imitation of the 
allegiance, glory and praise which belongs to God and Christ alone, So does he 
transform our understanding of victory. For victory is not found in military 
conquest, but in adopting the vocation of the Lamb, by becoming obedient until 
death. 

;. '. . ,. , Reversal of the Usual Standards of Victory 

One of the truly remarkable features about the Book of Revelation is, 
for all of its violent and disturbing imagery; it does not call upon Christians to 
prepare for military conflict. While the heavenly armies descend upon God's 
enemies, led by the one riding a white horse (Rev. 19:11-15), no battle is 
actually described. Unlike the War Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls,'* there is no 
order of battle. There is no call to take up arms. We are simply told in 1 9: 1 7- 1 8 
that one angel standing in the sun summons the birds to the great banquet of 
God. While we hear much in popular literature about the "Battle of 
Armageddon," in fact it is more like the "victorious non-battle against the 
opponents of God." 

Yet, such a phenomenon is only fitting, for John's vision is constantly 
surprising us with its mutation of images. Thus, the "Lion of the Tribe of 
Judah" of 5:5, becomes the Lamb standing as slain (5:6). The saints are 
victorious in 7:10, but only to the extent that they come out of, that is, endure 
the tribulation and wash their garments white in the blood of the Lamb. While 
the imagery of the cleansing power of sacrificial blood is found in the OT (see 
Isa 1:18; 64:6; Zech. 3:3-5),'^ the vivid character of the description is, 



'* IQM 5:3-6:17 
•^ Beale, 436. 



Revelation 7:9-17: The Innumerable Crowd Before the One Upon the Throne 

nevertheless, striking. If this is not enough, as we proceed Rev 12:10-11 tells 
us of a great voice in heaven, which proclaims: 

Now has come the salvation [or victory] and power 

And kingdom of our God 

And the authority of His Christ 

Because the accuser of our brothers and sisters is cast out 

The one accusing them before God day and night. 

And they conquered him through the blood of the Lamb 

And on account of the word of their witness 

And they did not love their lives until death 

Conquest is achieved, but not through power. Nor is it the result of an 
exercise of raw military force on the part of the saints. Instead, like Christ they 
have endured wrongful accusation and death. Yet, God will vindicate them 
when they, like Christ, are raised.^*^ When God's time is accomplished, he will 
answer the prayer of those portrayed in the fifth seal of 6:9- 1 1 , who are asking 
how long will it be until their blood is avenged. God is faithful, and will act. 
But the point of Revelation is that the victory is ultimately God's, not ours. The 
readers cannot take up the same weapons as Rome. For despite its arrogance, 
Rome will be judged. At the point when it assumes it achieves victory, in the 
death of Christians, it assures its own defeat. A defeat sealed, not by a lion or 
an eagle, but a Lamb, even a Lamb that was slain. 

Conclusion 

Yet, as we read this passage, what does all this mean for us? First, we 
notice that the human heart hasn't changed in two thousand years. If anything, 
the secular state of the twentieth century has claimed more lives, and has made 
even more blasphemous claims than Rome ever did. What was hailed at its 
beginnings as the "Christian Century" has, instead been the "Century of 
Warfare" (as one video series calls it), or, perhaps more accurately, the 
"Century of Genocide." Whether it be the Turks slaughtering Armenians in the 
first years of the twentieth century, to the Holocaust, to the millions slaughtered 
in the purges of the former Soviet Union or the "Great Leap Forward" in China, 
to the massacres in the Balkans and Africa today. The State claims ultimate 
obedience, and those who don't fit in, which is becoming more and more the 
case with Christians in this post Christian age, become not human beings but 



Beale, 664. 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

eggs. In this context, "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs" seems 
a favorite slogan. 

Against these claims, John calls on Christians to say an emphatic 
"No." We are not to resist with the same weapons as our opponents.^' This 
view seems foolish. Yet, even in living memory, whether it be the Civil Rights 
Movement led by Dr. King's principles of non-violence, or the collapse of the 
Soviet Empire, when Christians stand prayerfully against systematic evil, great 
things can be accomplished. Perhaps not it will not be according to our 
timetable of instant gratification, but it will be in the time decreed by the 
Sovereignty of God. We are disturbed by this state of affairs, and in many 
respects none of us, not even the Seer, are able to give a satisfactory answer. 
Yet, we are called to radical obedience, radical faith, in a radical, and ultimately 
subversive Gospel. It is then that we also receive the promise of Rev. 7:17, 

That the Lamb in the midst of the throne will shepherd them, 

And will lead them to the living waters. 

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. 





Abbreviations 


Biblical Books 




Isa. Isaiah 




Rev . Revelation 




Zech. Zechariah 


., A, • ■ :,.. , ' 


Dead Sea Scrolls 




lOM War Scroll. 





Secondary Sources 

ABD Anchor Bible Dictionary 

BR Biblical Research 

CC Continental Commentaries 

EQ Evangelical Quarterly 



^' For applications of this theme to a Christian pacifist agenda, see J.L. Coker, 
"Peace and the Apocalypse: Stanley Hauerwas and Miroslav Volf on the 
Eschatalogical Basis for Christian Nonviolence," EQ 71 (1999), 261-268. 
While I do not necessarily agree with such a position, an interesting 
combination of themes of Christian eschatology with a realistic appraisal of 
human nature is provided. 



Revelation 7:9-17: The Innumerable Crowd Before the One Upon the Throne 

HDR Harvard Dissertations in Religion 

HNTC Harper New Testament Commentaries 

ICC International Critical Commentary 

KEK Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar iiber das Neue Testament 

(Meyer Kommentar) 
NCBC New Century Bible Commentary 

NIBC New International Bible Commentary 

NIGNTC New International Greek New Testament Commentary 
TDNT Theological Dictionary of the New Testament 

WBC Word Biblical Commentary 

' ' '■ ' .•'■'■.1 ' 

Works Cited 

Aune, D. E "The Influence of Imperial Court Ceremonial on the Book of 
Revelation," BR 28 (1983) 5-26. 

. Revelation. WBC. Dallas: Word, 1997-1999. 



Barr, D. L. Tales of the End: A Narrative Commentary on the Book of 
Revelation . Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press, 1998. 

Bauckham, R. The Climax of Prophecy . Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1993. 

Beale, G. K. Revelation . NIGNTC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. 

Beasley-Murray, G. R. The Book of Revelation . NCBC. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1971 

Beckwith, I.T. The Apocalypse of John: Studies in Introduction with a Critical 
and Exegetical Commentary . Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967, c.1919. 

Bousset, W. Offenbarung Johannis . KEK. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und 
Ruprecht, 1906. 

Caird, G.B. The Revelation of Saint John the Divine . HNTC. New York: 
Harper, 1966. 

Charles, R. C. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. 
John, vol. 1. ICC. Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1920 



10 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Coker, J.L., "Peace and the Apocalypse: Stanley Hauerwas and Miroslav Volf 
on the Eschatological Basis for Christian Nonviolence," EQ 71(1 999 )26 1 -268. 

Foerster, W. "ocoCw, ktA.," TDNT 7:965-1012. 

Oster, R. E. "Ephesus," ABD 2:542-549. 

Ramsay, W.M. Letters to the Seven Churches. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985, 
cl904. 

Roloff, J. Revelation . CC. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993. 

Wall, R. W. Revelation. NIBC. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991. 

Yarbro-Collins, A. The Combat Mvth in the Book of Revelation . HDR. 
Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1976. 

. Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse . 



Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984. 



11 



-I 




PERSEVERANCE IN GRATITUDE 

A Socio-Rhetorical Commentory on the EpisHe "to the Hebrews* 
David A. deSilva 

"This commentary gives rich, deep insights into the argumentative, social, 
cultural, ideologicol, and sacred texture of Hebrews. ... A wonderful 

achievement and a lasting contribution." VERNON K ROBBINS 

ISBN 0-8028-4188-0 ■ 579 poges • paperback • $40.00 

ANALYTICAL CONCORDANCE TO THE NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION 

OF THE NEW TESTAMENT 

Richard E. Whitaker and John R. Kohienberger III 

"A valuable resource toword more effective use of the most widely circulated 
English Bible translation. " -DANIEL J. HARRINGTON, SJ. 

"All who study the New Testoment in the New Revised Standard Version will 
welcome Whitaker and Kohlenberger's analytical concordance." 

—BRUCE M. METZGER 

ISBN 0-8028-3838-3 ■ 800 pages ■ hardcover - $60.00 

The Pillar New Testament Commentary 

THELEHERSOFJOHN 

Colin 6. Krtise 

"Carefully researched and eloquently written, this volume offers that rare 
combination of thoroughgoing scholarship and spiritual insight. . . . Many 
generotions will find themselves in Kruse's debt for his outstanding contri- 

^"*'''"'' — GARYM.BURGE 

ISBN 0-8fl28-3728-X • 277 pages ■ hardcover • $28.00 

THE LEHER OF JAMES 
Dougios J. Moo 

"Sure to stimulate readers' interest in the 'quest of the historical James,' 
Moo's volume provides illuminating commentary on this important New 
Testament book. Rich word studies and up-to-date background material — 
especially drown from the Jewish Wisdom tradition — make this a notable 
addition to the current literature. . . . Whether in the classroom or in the 
pastor's study, this commentary will be much welcomed and valued." 

— RALPH P. MARTIN 

ISBN 0-8028-3730-1 ■ 287 pages ■ hardcover • $28.00 

At your bookstore, ■ 

Fox: 616-459-6540 J23 1| ^\ Publishing Co. 

E-mail: sales@eerdmans.com 255 jefferson ave. s.e. / grand rapids, mi 49503 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

The Changeless Gospel^ 

Luke Keefer* 

The most difficult thing about change is knowing what changes are 
good, to know how much change is good, and to know which things should not 
change. When individuals encounter too much change they become mentally 
ill. When cultures change too much they lose their identity. When churches 
change too much the faith becomes corrupt. 

So, strange as it might seem, the best way to manage change is to have 
something that does not change. We can think of the human body as an 
illustration of what I mean. Doctors tell us that thousands of our body cells are 
dying each day and are replaced by new cells. Yet we remain the same person 
in spite of all these cell changes. There is a genetic-code (our DNA) within us 
that gets transferred to each new cell. 

Think of the chaos that would result if this were not true. Oriental 
people might slowly change into Westerners. Men might slowly become 
women. Or we might all turn into dogs or cats, birds or fish. And think of a 
student who spent four years in a school and came to the examination in 
mathematics and found that his new brain cells only remembered contemporary 
music! But these things do not happen to us, because something within is not 
changed by all the changes that are occurring in our bodies. 

This leads us to ask what is the genetic code of the church? Is there 
a spiritual DNA which will preserve the church even as it changes its ministry 
for a world which will be much different a few decades from now? 

I think the answer to this question is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We 
know that Luke wrote two books: a Gospel and the Book of Acts. The Gospel 
of Luke (and here we could say of Matthew, Mark and John, as well) is the 
story of salvation which must never change. It is the substance of our faith, the 
core of our preaching, the measure of truth and life. If we try to change the 
gospel account, faith becomes sick and the church becomes weak. 

The Book of Acts, by way of contrast, shows how this gospel held fast 
in the midst of a church and a world which changed much. In fact, if the 
church had not changed the gospel would have lost its power. I want to 

* Luke Keefer (M.Div., Asbury; Ph.D., Temple) is Professor of Church History 
and Theology at ATS. 



'The substance of this article was first presented in a series of lectures in 
South Korea on the topic of "The Church's Ministry in the 21" Century." 



13 



The Changeless Gospel 

emphasize the changeless character of the gospel: what must not change in the 
2 P' or any other century if the church is to have a healthy identity and ministry. 

Lessons from Church History: Changes that Compromised the Gospel 

The Constantinian Church (4"' Century A.D.) 

Jesus had told his disciples that life in the church was to be based upon 
his example of servant leadership. He specifically told his disciples that they 
were not to build power structures like rulers in gentile governments did (Mark 
10:35-45). Yet when Constantine called himself a Christian, the governing 
patterns of the church became a copy of the Roman Empire. 

Over time a religious hierarchy developed with supreme power vested 
in the bishop of Rome. Clergy became a district class of people separate from 
the laity. They wore different clothing and were allowed into "sacred places" 
in the church where ordinary Christians were not allowed to go. The gospel 
suffered because the concept of the "priesthood of all believers" was lost. The 
church began to teach that ordinary people could not come directly to God 
through Jesus Christ. They would now need a religious person of power (a 
priest) to help them connect with God's salvation. 

Worship was vastly changed. It was moved from homes, where it 
largely was held in the first three centuries, to special buildings designed for 
church services. The new churches built from the 4"* century onward were 
copied from Roman buildings for civilian government. The "churches" were 
to be where the entire population could have religion, rather than a company of 
believers gathering in the informality and the fellowship of a Christian 
household. 

Soon the new churches were made ornate, a place where the wealthy 
and the powerful could feel comfortable. Trained musicians replaced 
congregational singing. Clergy entered in a processional, dressed in priestly 
clothing. The service became highly structured in liturgy and ritual. Gone was 
the simple service of the fishermen of Galilee. Rome had all but smothered the 
jubilant faith of the early Christians. 

Christianity became joined to the Roman government; the church and 
the State would cooperate in building a Christian society. Christianity became 
part of Roman culture. One became a Christian as part of the social heritage 
rather than by a considerate choice of faith. 

Strange as it might seem, the Church tried to adjust the gospel to 
accommodate all these changes. It did so by ignoring the teaching of Jesus and 
going to the Old Testament for its authority. There they found a sacred 
kingship, a sacred priesthood, and a sacred temple with elaborate ritual and 
ornate worship. This was a model for empire Christianity rather than of a 



14 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Savior of sinners who died on a Roman cross at the hands of the Roman 
mihtary. 

In the first three centuries of the church, the gospel demonstrated its 
power to save in spite of the opposition of the Roman government. But when 
the Roman government tried to be the friend of the church, the gospel was in 
greater danger than when the government was the church's enemy. 

As the church enters the next century we must remember this lesson. 
Persecuting governments will be a problem for the church and its ministry. But 
friendly governments are also a snare for the church, because their influence is 
so subtle. No government is happy with the Christian confession that "Jesus 
is Lord," for that means that governments have only limited power, an idea that 
politicians will hardly accept. If we want to preach the gospel of Christ to all 
nations, we must be careful that we do not wrap the flag of our country around 
the Bible. . 

The Crusading Church (1095-1291 A.D.) 

Jesus was the Prince of Peace. He did not kill his enemies to protect 
his own life. Rather he died to save all people, including the enemies who put 
him to death. 

Jesus taught his disciples to forgive as he forgave, to love as he loved, 
and to seek peace as He sought peace. Christians were not to hate their 
personal enemies nor the people outside their race or nation. Christians were 
never to kill, not even for the sake of Christ and the gospel. 

When the Western Church decided to send armies to Palestine to 
capture Christian holy places from Islamic control, all this teaching and 
example of Jesus was forgotten. Christian armies killed Muslims and Jews 
because they did not confess faith in Christ. A Christian sword replaced the 
gospel in the Western confrontation with Judaism and Islam. 

Today the period of the crusades is seen as one of the worst chapters 
in Christian history. When Jewish and Islamic people remember this history, 
it is hard for them to believe the gospel of salvation through Jesus. 

What happened in the crusades has been repeated in nearly every war 
that has involved Christian people. It is very difficult for countries that have 
sent out armies to other lands to later send out Christian missionaries to the 
same countries. When people carry a gun one time and the Bible the next, it is 
difficult to believe they are Jesus' people filled with love for the lost. 

Think of the case of the United States in this matter. Native American 
Indians have trouble accepting the gospel preached by North American 
missionaries. For more than two hundred years, white men took land from the 
Indians, killed them in large numbers, and greatly mistreated them. Now 
Indians think of the gospel as the white man's religion, and they don't believe 



15 



The Changeless Gospel 

in it. The same is true of other nations our country has opposed in war: 
Germany, Japan, Vietnam, Iraq, to name just a few. U.S. missionaries are not 
having much success in these countries. 

South Korea is fortunate in that its military, apart from the Korean 
War at mid-century, has not been involved in warfare against neighboring 
countries. I sincerely hope the political problems with North Korea can be 
solved at the peace table. It will make gospel witness in North Korea so much 
easier to accomplish. 

For we must remember the lessons of the Crusading Church. The 
ministry of the gospel suffers when we try to carry guns along with our Bibles. 

The Enlightenment Church a8th-20th Century A.D.) 

In response to rationalization and scientific trends in Europe, 
especially in the eighteenth century, the Western Church accommodated the 
gospel to the spirit of the times. It agreed to call large segments of Scripture 
"myth," and gave up such theological foundations as the Trinity, the deity of 
Christ, the sinful nature of humanity, the atonement of Christ, and the doctrine 
of hell. It rejected the biblical record of creation and the accounts of miracles 
throughout the Bible. 

In this compromise, Christianity became just one of the historic 
religions identified with Western culture. The gospel was no longer God's 
saving truth for all peoples of the earth. Consequently it was believed that 
missions should be discontinued around the world except for schools, hospitals, 
and social ministries. 

It hardly needs saying that this type of secular humanism has been a 
problem for the church up to the present. For it represents a dangerous idolatry: 
humans creating God according to their own image. It results in religion 
without mystery, worship without feeling, and life without eternity. This is 
Christianity without Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of humanity. 

The Media Church (Late 20'" Century) 

The media church is hard to describe because it includes everything 
from very conservative Christianity to quite liberal Christianity. It includes 
more traditional forms of worship, but it also has a lot of charismatic worship 
patterns. So the particular danger for the gospel depends upon the theology of 
the group using the media. 

What I am thinking about are the problems presented by contemporary 
electronic media to the church. Media aim for a large audience, so tend to be 
overly concerned with what the customers want to hear, rather than what 
Scripture says we need to proclaim. 

Media depend upon maximum effectiveness of very small soundbites. 



16 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

So there is a tendency to play upon the sensational aspects of Christianity rather 
than the things of substance. Media tend to develop an audience with 
unquestioned allegiance to a popular preacher rather than a commitment to a 
fellowship of believers. In other words, media become substitutes for the 
church, and discipleship fails to occur since discipleship depends upon intimate 
relationships and sustained instruction. 

There is no question that media will continue to develop in the next 
century. And the church should use media. But the church must be careful that 
the media approach does not wrap the gospel into too small a package. We 
must declare all the truth of the gospel. And media must be supplemented by 
many other ministries of the church if the gospel is to be heard in all its fulness. 

Luke-Acts: The Enduring Gospel 

Luke's Gospel tells the full story of Jesus from his miraculous birth to 
his resurrection, ascension, and the promise of Pentecost. In chapters 1-4, Jesus 
and his mission is introduced. The birth narratives, his baptism by John the 
Baptist, his geneology, his temptation in the wilderness, and his message at his 
hometown of Nazareth are all used to show that Jesus was the promised 
Messiah of Israel, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about salvation. 
But he comes as more than the Jews were expecting, for he is none other than 
God in human flesh. 

In chapters 5-21, Luke tells of Jesus' ministry on earth. He recounts 
Jesus' teaching, his miracles, and his efforts to prepare his disciples for the 
building of his Church. It is the largest section of the book and covers a wide 
range of topics, but at the heart of the stories is his mission to save sinners 
(especially chapter 15). 

Then chapters 22-24 cover his crucifixion and his resurrection. These 
incidents are not only the climax to the story of his life, they are also the 
foundation stones of the church: the gospel message focuses upon Jesus 
crucified and resurrected, the Savior to all who put their trust in him. 

If we want to avoid the mistakes the church has made in the past, then 
we must cover all the topics of the twenty-four chapters of Luke. We dare not 
reduce the gospel to just those stories that we like or just those doctrines that 
are easy to understand in a particular culture. Just as Bible translators translate 
the whole Bible, so must the church's ministers preach and teach the entire 
gospel. 

Luke's treatise, called the Acts of the Apostles, details the beginning 
of the church in Jerusalem and its expansion as far as Rome. The church in 
Acts changed its practices to fit the culture of the people where the church was 
being planted. But the church did not change its message when it took the 
gospel to new places. The outline of the sermons recorded in Acts is very 



17 



The Changeless Gospel 

similar to the points established in Luke's gospel. 

C.H. Dodd carefully studied the early sermons in Acts and 
summarized their main points. They can be summarized as follows: 

a. The age of fulfillment has arrived in which the Old Testament 
prophecies about Christ are being realized. 

b. This has taken place through the ministry of Christ's life and 
death. 

c. By virtue of his resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right 
hand of God, the Messianic head of a new Israel. 

d. The Holy Spirit is a sign of Christ's present power and glory. 

e. The Messianic Age will shortly be completed with the return of 
Christ. 

f. Therefore, people should repent of their sin and receive the 
promise of salvation for the present and the age to come.^ 

We see then that the church's message after Jesus and in places 
outside of Jerusalem remained the same. Time and place did not affect the 
content of the gospel. 

We hear much today about "preaching in the language of the people" 
who make up our audience. And, from the standpoint of good communication, 
that is a valid point. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to "preach 
in the language of the people." The right way is basically the art of translation. 
Not only must we translate the gospel into the language of a particular ethnic 
group, we must also translate the language of our preaching into the linguistic 
sub-groups within a culture (for example, youth, scholars, workers, etc.). But 
our focus in translating is to find words that faithfully convey the meaning of 
the gospel story. In the right way, the original story remains unchanged. Only 
the words change. 

The wrong way to "preach in the language of the people" changes both 
the story and the words. Then we are not merely translating the gospel; we are 
guilty of changing the gospel so that it says something different. We can use 
fancy terms for these changes, like "cultural sensitivity," "indigenization," or 
"contemporary hermeneutics," but the fact remains that we are not preaching 
the same gospel as we find in Luke and Acts. 

The church in Acts translated the gospel into several new languages, 
but it kept the gospel story as it was given by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. In 
other words, the church engaged in translation but not in reinterpretation. They 
succeeded in preaching the gospel in the language of the people. That, in part, 



^C.H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Development (London: 
Hodder and Stroughton, 1936) 21-24. 

18 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

is the larger concept of speaking in tongues in the Book of Acts. Through the 
gift of the Holy Spirit they convincingly related the gospel which had 
transformed their lives into new languages for people in the Mediterranean 
world who did not speak "Hebrew." 

Application to Ministry in the Twenty-First Century 

There are many voices in the contemporary world (outside the church 
and sadly inside the church, too) that advise the church to change its message. 
Some do so because they are impatient with traditional Christianity. Again, 
some want the church to downplay salvation and the age to come and think 
primarily about political, economic, and social conditions of the present time. 
Others want us to give up the claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation. In 
the name of globalization, they want us to put Jesus on equal status with 
Buddha, Confucius, and Mohammed, all teachers of different religions. 

I have tried in this lecture to show several reasons why we should not 
change the gospel we teach. 

The early church did not change the gospel when it went to different 
places. Rather, the gospel kept the church true to its identity as it went into 
many different cultures. 

Various examples from church history show what happened when the 
church did change its message. In every case, the church became sick and its 
ministries became weak. We know too well the danger of changing the gospel. 

A church that dares to be faithful to the gospel has two great benefits. 
First, Jesus will reward those people when he returns to rule and reign. And, 
second, the church that holds to the gospel will have a powerful ministry. In 
Acts, the authorities, both religious and political, wanted the apostles to stop 
preaching in Jesus' name. But they said, "We must obey God, rather than men" 
(Acts 5:29). They prayed for boldness in their witness and preached Jesus in 
spite of persecution. And the early church grew not only in numbers, but in 
coiranitment, worship, and devotion as well. We often say we admire the early 
church and long to be like them in power and devotion. But to be like them we 
must take our stance with them on the truth of the gospel. 

In eighteenth century England, John Wesley found that many people 
opposed his gospel ministry. The Enlightenment Church of his day felt the 
gospel story was out of date. They urged Wesley to be more rational in his 
religion. But Wesley took his stand on the truth of the gospel as recorded in the 
Bible. And he and his helpers had such success that they saved the nation from 
sinking into a loss of the Christian faith. Methodism changed the nation 
through the preaching of the gospel. If Wesley had listened to his critics, we 
would never have heard of him in history. It was the gospel that made Wesley 



19 



The Changeless Gospel 

able to stand in a world that was quickly changing. 

We live and minister in a world that is changing quickly and much. 
But God has given the church a genetic code, a particular DNA, which gives 
us an identity in a world that is losing its face, and a mission in a world that is 
losing its way. That genetic code is the gospel, which has endured from the 
first to the twenty-first century. It is a gospel that has endured the journey from 
Jerusalem to Seoul, and transforms believers into Christians in recently 
evangelized countries as it did in Palestine. And God only knows where the 
path of the gospel goes as it stretches out from the younger churches to the 
unreached people in our world. But we do know that wherever Korean 
Christians proclaim the gospel, people will come to know the God who redeems 
and transforms sinners into the image of Jesus Christ. 



20 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Fixing Boundaries 
The Construction of Identity in Joshua 

L. Daniel Hawk* 

Possession of the promised land, obedience to the commands of 
Moses, and the extermination of the peoples of the land constitute the primary 
themes which configure the book of Joshua. Although there has been common 
agreement that these themes function to establish a sense of national identity, 
attempts to describe how they do so have been frustrated by the contradictory 
perspectives they present. Claims that Israel "took all the land" vie with 
assertions that vast tracts of the land must still be possessed. Demonstrations 
of Israel's precise execution of divine commands conflict with episodes that 
depict Israelites breaking the commandments of Moses and Yhwh. And reports 
that the Israelites slaughtered "everything that breathed" are opposed by stories 
which relate the survival of the peoples of the land. 

These conflicting perspectives have often been explained in terms of 
the Joshua's complex compositional history. That is, the tensions are seen as 
a consequence of a process in which multiple editors commented on and 
modified source materials or earlier versions of the book. While it offers an 
attractive scenario, this approach conveniently sidesteps the vexing difficulties 
that arise from the canonical form of the text. If Joshua aims to construct a 
national identity for Israel, why does it continually undercut those themes 
which seem to reinforce Israel's distinctive character? 

The ambivalent presentation of these themes in Joshua suggests that 
the book is not so much advancing as it is working through issues of identity. 
Motifs of land, kinship, and religious observance articulate common ethnic 
signifiers. Each is repeatedly presented and tested as the story moves from 
beginning to end, but none finally proves to be a definitive mark of national 
identity. Enclaves of Canaanites, as well as Israelites living east of the Jordan, 
belie the notion that Israel the nation can closely associated with the land west 
of the Jordan. Repeated infractions of the commandments illustrate that 
obedience does not essentially characterize Israel. The incorporation of 
indigenous peoples on the one hand, and the extermination of an Israelite 
family on the other, reveal that a sense of blood relatedness does not essentially 
define the nation. By subverting notions of identity along these lines, Joshua 
lays the foundation for the presentation of an alternative vision of Israel. The 
final section of the book (Josh 22-24) advances this vision by recasting identity 
in terms of loyalty and decision. In short, Joshua is a carefully crafted narrative 

*L. Daniel Hawk (M.Div., Ashland Theological Seminary; Ph.D., Emory 
University) is Professor of OT and Hebrew at ATS. 



21 



Fixing Boundaries: The Construction of Identity in Joshua 



which detaches Israelite identity from ideologies of land, kinship, and practice 
and presents Israel as a nation constituted by reciprocal choices 

Conquest 

The first major section of Joshua (Josh 2-12) raises the issue of 
national identity by introducing three reports of conquest by three stories that 
depict encounters with Canaan. Scenes of Israel and Canaan on the individual 
level thereby balance scenes of Israel and Canaan on the corporate level. The 
story of Rahab and the spies (2:1-25) encloses Israel's victory over the 
inhabitants of Jericho, the story of Achan (7 : 1 -26) precedes the conquest of Ai , 
and the story of the Gibeonites' ruse (9:1-27) sets the backdrop for the rout of 
a Canaanite coalition. A common structure and themes unite the three 
campaigns. In the first and third campaigns (at Jericho and Gibeon), Yhwh 
brings miraculous victories, even though Israel has made pacts with indigenous 
inhabitants of the land. The middle scenario (at Ai) reverses elements of the 
others and connects a disastrous defeat with an act of duplicity. In this case, 
Israel achieves victory only after excising the disobedience members from the 
community and meticulously following Yhwh's directions. Taken together, 
the three campaigns form a narrative triptych which joins issues of inclusion 
and exclusion to those of obedience and disobedience.' 

Each anecdote raises the issue of identity by telling a story which 
involves the discovery of what is hidden. Rahab hides the spies, Achan hides 
plunder, and the Gibeonites conceal their identities. In each case, concealment 
leads eventually to exposure, and once "exposed" the characters engage in 
remarkable self-disclosure. Rahab reveals her knowledge of Yhwh and her 
motives for hiding the spies (2:9-13), Achan confesses his theft and reveals the 
location of the plunder items (7:19-21), and the Gibeonites admit that they live 
within the land and not far away (9:16, 22-24). This in turn leads to a decision 
which challenges the nation's internal boundaries. Rahab and the Gibeonites, 
who have given glory to Yhwh while Israelites have remained silent, are 
incorporated into the community (6:25; 9:27). Achan, pedigreed insider, 
admits that he has brought a Canaanite presence into the camp and is then 
executed, along with his entire household (7:24-26). 



'I have developed this symmetry of structure, and its implications in greater 
detail in "The Problem with Pagans," in Reading Bibles, Writing Bodies: 
Identity and the Book, Timothy K. Beal and David M. Gunn, eds. (London: 
Routledge) 1 53- 1 63. My remarks in this section summarize points made in that 
essay. 

22 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

The stories of Rahab and the Gibeonites demonstrate that Israel's 
communal boundaries are elastic and address an important question: Can Israel 
remain a coherent community if it incorporates outsiders? If so, on what basis 
can outsiders be incorporated? The text introduces these questions through the 
story of Rahab, the quintessential outsider, by employing a subtlety 
commensurate with the delicacy of the issue.^ By allowing her family to 
survive, Israel breaks the explicit commands of Moses (cf. Deut 7:1-4): 
Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy. Do 
not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons 
or taking their daughters for your sons, for that would turn 
away your children from following me, to serve other gods. 
Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you 
and he would destroy you quickly. 
The impropriety of this act is hinted at as the spies negotiate with her, but is 
never articulated, and Rahab herself is depicted in a manner that suggests her 
resemblance to Israel.^ Her story concludes with the statement that she "lives 
within Israel to the present day," although at a relatively safe location at the 
periphery of the community (6:23, 25). 

The Gibeonites' story, on the other hand, confronts the reader directly 
with the incorporation of outsiders. The specter of a forbidden covenant is 
raised at the beginning of the episode, when the narrator divulges the 
Gibeonites' deceptive stratagem, and thereafter constitutes the focus of the 
episode. As with Rahab, the Gibeonites display traits otherwise associated with 



^Rahab personifies qualities that represent the binary opposites of Israel in 
terms of ethnicity (Canaanite), gender (female) and theology. ("To prostitute 
oneself is a common idiom for following "other gods" rather than YHWH 
[Exod 34:14-16; Deut 31:16-18; Judg 2:17]). 

^Rahab is resourceful and aggressive in her quest to gain life in the land. And 
words of praise to YHWH issue from her lips, rather than from those of the 
Israelites in the story. Through artful allusions to the story of Sodom and 
Gomorrah (Gen 19: 1-29), the narrator intimates that she is a character worthy 
of deliverance. These aspects of the story are elaborated in detail in L. Daniel 
Hawk, "Strange Houseguests: Rahab, Lot, and the Dynamics of Deliverance," 
in Reading Between Texts: Intertextuality and the Hebrew Bible, Danna Nolan 
Fewell, ed., LCBI (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1992) 89-97. 

23 



Fixing Boundaries: The Construction of Identity in Joshua 

Israel.'' And they also exhibit a knowledge of and response to the Mosaic 
torah, acclaim YHWH's mighty deeds, and display qualities prized by Israel.^ 
Their story also ends with a note of their continuing presence within Israel, 
although they are not assigned to the periphery but to altar, the very center of 
the community's life (Josh 9:23, 27). Along with the story of Rahab, the 
Gibeonite episode collapses perceived distinctions between Israel and the 
peoples of the land and establishes a precedent for the extension of Israel's 
boundaries to include members of other ethnic groups.^ 

The stories of Achan and the battle at Ai address the opposite issue: 
how to deal with undetected difference within the Israelite community — what 
to do if one of us becomes one of them. The plunder stolen by Achan carries 
radically "not-Israel" marks, both in the social and the theological sense. Taken 
from Jericho, it has been designated with the same fyerem, or "off-limits," status 
attributed to the inhabitants of Canaan (Josh 6:17-18; Deut 7:1-4). In addition, 
it has been declared "holy" and has been dedicated to the "treasury of Yhwh" 
(Josh 6: 19). The story opens by demonstrating that Achan has transformed the 
entire community by bringing what is "not-Israel" into the camp. The 
campaign begins with a report that Yhwh's anger bums against Israel, a divine 
response associated with Israel's turn to other peoples and their gods (cf. Deut 
6:15; 7:4; 11:17; 13:17 [18]; 29:20-28 [19-27]; 31:17; cf. Josh 23:16). Second, 
the nation loses the "all-Israel" character that leads elsewhere to victory. Only 



''Like Israel, and unlike the other peoples of the land, the Gibeonites have no 
king, and the text gives the impression that their decisions are communal in 
nature, making no distinction between the Gibeonites as a whole and the 
delegation that speaks to Joshua and the Israelite leaders (9:3-13). 

^The Gibeonites demonstrate initiative and ingenuity. Their ruse, in which they 
represent themselves as travelers from a distant land, is concocted in 
accordance with the Deuteronomic rules for warfare, which allow Israel to 
accept the surrender of peoples outside the land but not those within (Deut 
20:1-20). They also acclaim Yhwh's mighty deeds (9:9b-10), while the 
Israelites in the story do not even bother to consult Yhwh (v. 14) 

^Even though covenants with Canaanites are explicitly forbidden by Moses, the 
narrator pointedly never refers to the relevant Deuteronomic texts, nor does 
YHWH respond with the anger which Moses warns will result from such acts. 
For a fuller discussion of this point, see Lyle Eslinger, Into the Hands of the 
Living God, JSOTSup 84 (Sheffield: Almond/Sheffield University, 1989), 23- 
54. 

24 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

a fraction of the nation assaults Ai, and these troops are routed with the 
"melting hearts" that have previously characterized the Canaanites (Josh 7:2-5; 
cf. 2: 1 1 ; 5: 1). Israel therefore suffers precisely those consequences that Moses 
warned would result from the transgression of social and theological 
boundaries. By intimating that Israel's defeat is a consequence of one person's 
transgression, the narrator also points to the deeper implications of the theft. 
Achan has broken Israel's distinctive integrity by introducing a strange element 
into the camp and hiding its presence from the rest of the group. 

The narrative accentuates the symbolic implications of Achan' s 
transgression in a number of ways. Lexical and thematic allusions to 
Deuteronomy 13:1-18 link Achan with the apostates who entice Israel to the 
worship of other gods.^ Yhwh characterizes the crime as a corporate 
transgression of the covenant and declares that, as a result, Israel has become 
/lerem, just like the peoples they are to destroy (7:12). Achan himself embodies 
the paradox of the insider-tumed-outsider. The text stresses his ethnic purity 
by introducing him with an extensive pedigree: "Achan son of Carmi son of 
Zabdi son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah" (7:1). His name, however, is 
nonsensical and derives from no known Hebrew root. On the other hand, it is 
mysteriously suggestive. A transposition the first two radicals of his name 
(pV) yields the root of the name Canaan. Does Achan (pV) represent the 
hidden presence of Canaan C)V^^)?^ The entire tale, with its concentration on 
discovering identity, thus constitutes a paradigm for confronting and 
eliminating heterogeneous elements from the community. Following 
Deuteronomy's directions for dealing with seducing apostates (13:6-18), the 



'Deuteronomy calls for death by stoning for those who seduce Israel to follow 
other gods. In case of cities which apostatize, a careful investigation is called 
for. If the matter is confirmed, the whole town is to be destroyed and burned, 
with its citizens, cattle, and materials. The same procedure is followed to 
identify and execute Achan and his family. 

^1 Chron 2:7 lists his name as "Achar (1DV) the troubler (IDIV) of Israel." This 
form of the name coheres with Joshua's pronouncement ("Why have you 
troubled Israel?" Josh 7:24) and explains the etiological thrust of the story with 
reference to the valley of Achor (Josh 7:26). It may therefore represent the 
more original rendering of the name. Some have argued that the difference in 
terms is the result of a scribal error which mistook resh for final nun . This 
seems improbable, however, since the scribe would have had to make this 
mistake repeatedly and consistently while copying the text, not only throughout 
Josh 7 but also in Josh 22:20. 

25 



Fixing Boundaries: The Construction of Identity in Joshua 

nation separates itself from this insider-gone-bad and destroys all traces of the 
"not-Israel" presence he has injected into the community. Achan, his family 
and livestock are killed and burned along with their possessions. 

With communal integrity thus restored, the focus turns outward in the 
ensuing battle at Ai, where Israel reverses the tables on Canaan. Now Israel 
hides and deceives, laying an ambush which entices the people of Ai to leave 
the safety of their communal boundaries (8:1-29). Having been enticed by 
Israel's deceit, the Canaanites rush out of the city into the open and are quickly 
destroyed. By hiding from Canaan, in a sense turning its own hidden 
seductiveness against it, Israel demonstrates its mastery and supremacy over the 
threat of Canaanite difference. 

The campaign at Ai thus reverses many of the elements of the stories 
set at Jericho and Gibeon. In the latter stories, communal boundaries are 
extended to incorporate others who resemble Israel. At Ai the community 
borders are confirmed by excluding an Israelite who resembles Canaan. Taken 
together, all the accounts argue both for the elasticity and maintenance of 
communal boundaries. But they also demonstrate that neither land, ethnicity, 
nor religious confession constitute the definitive mark of Israelite identity, the 
standard of exclusion and inclusion from the nation. 

The Allotment 

The allotment of tribal territories follows the program developed in the 
conquest stories but gives primary focus to geographical boundaries rather than 
those of ethnicity and law. The process of apportionment takes place in three 
stages. First, the narrator reports the apportionment of land east of the Jordan 
to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half-Manasseh, pointedly referring to their 
territory as the land Moses gave (as opposed to the land Yhwh gave [13: 15, 24, 
29; cf. 1 : 14; 22:7]). The text then moves to the lands apportioned to Judah and 
the Joseph tribes. The description of Judah 's territory consists of a boundary 
which is elaborated in striking detail (15:1-12) and a precise and systematic list 
of cities (15:20-62). By contrast, the descriptions of Ephraim and Manasseh's 
territories are sparse, muddled, and fragmentary. And while the description of 
Judah' s territory begins with the inspiring story of Caleb, that of the Josephites' 
concludes with a report of the tribes' unwillingness to take cities within their 
inheritance.^ Thus, while the territory of Judah seems to embody the ideal of 



^The accounts of both Ephraim and Manasseh conclude with reports that the 
tribes could not dispossess the indigenous inhabitants of the land. A similar 
note appends the report of Judah' s settlement (15:63). However, in this case, 
the note refers to the tribe's failure to take Jerusalem, a city that lies outside its 

26 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

a homogeneous territory swept clean of Canaanite elements, the territories of 
the Josephites take on a distinctively heterogenous character. '° 

Inserted within the descriptions of these tribal lands are two stories 
which challenge Israel's system of geographical and social organization just as 
the stories of Rahab and the Gibeonites challenged communal boundaries. The 
concepts of possession and inheritance are closely linked to a patriarchy 
network which give divine sanction to claims to property and provide an 
organization scheme for tribes and clans. The stories of Achsah (15: 16-19) and 
Zelophehad's daughters (17:3-6), however, relate situations in which women 
are given land. Following an earlier tactic, the issue is introduced in muted 
terms through the story of Achsah, who seeks a "field" and receives springs of 
water in the Negeb, safely within the patrimony of Caleb. The story of 
Zelophehad's daughters then presents the issue more directly. Here the text 
begins by suggesting an equivalency between the daughters and the Manassite 
clans, first by the listing of their names (corresponding to the listing of 
Manassite clans [17:2]) and then by referring to them as the "daughters of 
Manasseh" (v. 6), who receive "an inheritance (DtTIi) among the brothers of 



assigned boundaries. 

'"The picture is punctuated, at the end, with an anecdote that reports the 
Josephites' desire to clear new land rather than to challenge Canaanite power 
in the region (17: 14-18). The anecdote illustrates the Josephites' reluctance to 
fulfill the commands of Moses and links this reluctance with the survival of the 
land's inhabitants within their tribal allotments. 

The story of Caleb stands in contrast to the Josephites' reluctance to 
engage the Canaanites. The stories thus work together to illustrate the 
connection (positively and negatively) between fulfilment of Moses' commands 
and success in taking the land. Caleb embodies the tribe of Judah. He 
aggressively seeks the strongholds of Canaan and prevails. Judah the tribe also 
succeeds in taking the whole of the territory allotted to it. On the other hand, 
the Josephites fear the Canaanite strongholds. The description of their territory 
mirrors their trepidation. They do not take the major cities and never 
completely drive out the indigenous inhabitants. For more on the intersection 
of the territorial descriptions and themes of obedience, see my discussion in 
Every Promise Fulfilled: Contesting Plots in Joshua, LCBI (Louisville: 
Westminster/John Knox, 1991) 98-114 . 

27 



Fixing Boundaries: The Construction of Identity in Joshua 

their father"." The possession of "inheritances" by women explicitly 
challenges the structures which equate ownership of land with the male 
members of the community and, more fundamentally, the patriarchal system 
which undergirds it. Whereas the stories of Rahab and the Gibeonites contest 
an exclusionary ethic which seeks to preserve stark ethnic boundaries, these 
stories of women and land challenge an ideology that gives only men a 
privileged place in the nation.'^ 

The third round of allotments (concerning the remaining tribes [18:1- 
19:5 1 ]) parallels the second. This stage begins with a precise description of the 
boundaries and cities of Benjamin. However, the pattern gradually 
disintegrates as each successive tribal territory is recounted. The allotments of 
Simeon and Dan, which display a complete lack of territorial integrity, bracket 
other confused or incoherent descriptions. The report of Dan's possession 
breaks the tight connection between "inheritance" and "possession" altogether 
by reporting that the tribe exercised its own initiative and took possession of 
land that was other than its assigned inheritance (19:40-48).'^ 

Through its juxtaposition of conflicting or incongruous materials, the 
description of tribal allotments continues to destabilize the territorial and social 
boundaries that configure Israel's identity. The reader may therefore by 
surprised by the narrator's concluding declaration that Israel took possession 
of the land Yhwh had given (21:43-45). The remarks have puzzled many 
interpreters, since the whole tone of the preceding account has indicated the 
opposite; large tracts of land remain in Canaanite hands and Canaanites 
continue to live among Israelites. The summary's meaning, however, is to be 
found in its focus on Yhwh's faithfulness in the light of Israel's diffidence. 
While the preceding description has focused on what Israel did, the summary 
emphasizes what Yhwh did. Israel's resolve may not be complete, but 
nonetheless "not one of the good words Yhwh made to Israel failed; all came 
to pass" (v. 45). In contrast to the uncertain state of Israel's affairs depicted in 



"The root t^DX which denotes legitimate claim to property, occurs four times 
in vv. 4-6. For a fuller discussion of t^riD as claim see Norman C. Habel, The 
Land Is Mine: Six Biblical Land Ideologies, OBT (Minneapolis, Minn.: 
Augsburg Fortress, 1995) 33-35. 

'^In a sense, the story of Rahab introduces this concept as well. Like Achsah 
and the daughters of Zelophehad, she exemplifies the initiative required to take 
possession of the land. 

'^See Every Promise Fulfilled, 110-113. 

28 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

the previous reports, the narrator's comments assert that Yhwh is ultimately 
responsible for all that Israel has and is. 

Working through Identity 

The concluding section of Joshua comprises a series of texts which 
bring the issue of Israelite identity into explicit focus. The story of a conflict 
between the tribes to the east and west of the Jordan (22: 1-34) brings together 
defining questions of territory, obedience, and kinship and for a final time 
illustrates the uncertain character of each. Joshua's testamentary address (23: 1- 
16) then picks up these themes and locates them within the matrix of Israel's 
choices, in preparation for a final scene where Israel is constituted by choices 
during a covenant ceremony at Shechem (24:1-28). 

The confrontation at the Jordan (Josh 22:10-34) revisits the issue of 
community integrity. At issue is an altar which the eastern tribes have 
constructed in the boundary region of the Jordan. The altar threatens a 
dangerous plurality which erases community integrity and union with YHWH, 
for Deuteronomy stipulates that sacrifice may only be conducted at the "place 
where Yhwh has chosen to place his name" (cf. Deut 12: 10-14). The episode 
centers on conflicting perceptions of Israelite identity. The western tribes view 
the construction of the altar as catastrophic act of rebellion and sacrilege and 
equate it with the apostasy at Baal-Peor and with Achan's sin (vv. 17, 20). 
From their perspective, Israel is defined by geography. They refer to their side 
of the Jordan as "Yhwh's land," insinuate that the land east of the Jordan is 
"unclean," and bid their kindred to join them. 

The eastern tribes respond by articulating a sense of identity based on 
kinship ties, and they bring the question of national identity to the surface. 
First they deny the explicit charges leveled against them (rebellion, sacrilege) 
and then the implicit accusations underlying them (that they have built the altar 
"to turn Israel away from following Yhwh" [vv. 22-23]).''' They then explain 
that the altar has been constructed to ensure that the bonds that hold the nation 
together will remain intact well into the future. The altar, they imply, is meant 
to unify, not divide:"We did this out of concern that at a later time your 
children will say to our children, 'What have you to do with Yhwh the God of 
Israel?'" (v. 24). The explanation reveals an understanding of national identity 



'"^he text prepares the reader to see other issues beneath the charges by 
introducing the episode with a scene in which Joshua endorses the easterners' 
obedience to YHWH (22:1-6). Joshua's emphatic commendation thus stands 
in striking contrast to the subsequent (and equally emphatic) condemnation of 
the delegation. 

29 



Fixing Boundaries: The Construction of Identity in Joshua 

based on maintaining kinship bonds, even across geographical boundaries. The 
conflict, then, arises because the two groups perceive "Israel" in different 
terms. Israelites west of the Jordan equate their identity with the land they 
possess, while those in the east understand their identity in terms of kinship. 
The conflicting perceptions highlight the difficulty in sorting out questions of 
obedience to Yhwh. Who is obedient to Yhwh in this story? And how can 
obedience be determined amidst contrary motives and perspectives? The 
situation is resolved only through a tenuous explanation that the altar will not 
really be a place of sacrifice but a "model" and a memorial. 

Joshua's farewell address (23:1-16) takes up the themes of land, 
obedience, and separation and subsumes them under imperatives that 
emphasize the importance of the choices Israel faces; that is, to cling to YHWH 
and remain Yhwh's people or to follow the ways of the people of the land and 
their gods. Here as well Joshua sets Israelite integrity against Canaanite 
plurality. Joshua addresses "all Israel" (v. 2; cf. v. 14) and admonishes the 
assembled nation to observe carefully the whole of the book of the law (i.e. 
Deuteronomy; v. 6), to cling to Yhwh (v. 8), and to love him (v. 11). If so, he 
promises, Israelite integrity will prevail over Canaanite plurality: "one of you 
sets one thousand fleeing" (v. 10). On the other hand, Joshua reminds the 
people that they must not "go among these nations which remain among you" 
(v. 7), and warns that contact with the Canaanites is tantamount to following 
after their gods (v. 7). Clinging to the many gods of Canaan will yield the 
opposite result: Yhwh's anger will be kindled and they, like the people of the 
land, will disappear (vv. 12-13, 16). Joshua ends his address by turning the 
promise motif on it head and setting choices and consequences before Israel. 
Just as Yhwh fulfilled all the good he promised, so will he fulfill all the bad if 
Israel ever transgresses the covenant (vv. 14-16). 

The final scene of the book (Josh 24: 1-28) then takes up the theme of 
choosing and presents it as the foundation of Israel's national identity. At 
Shechem, Joshua brings the nation to a point of decision. The episode opens 
with a retelling of Israel's history which concentrates on what Yhwh has done 
to bring the nation into being. Yhwh, through Joshua, recasts Israel's story in 
first person, making the nation the object, rather than the subject, of its own 
story. By emphasizing divine initiative at each point of Israel's life as a nation, 
the retrospective demonstrates that Yhwh's commitment to Israel sets the 
nation apart from all others. As a consequence, Joshua calls on Israel either to 
put away the other gods in its midst and serve YHWH alone or to serve the many 
gods of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Canaan (vv. 14-15). In response, the nation 
declares its choice repeatedly and emphatically for Yhwh, and Joshua confirms 
the decision by making a covenant and erecting memorial stones (vv. 25-27). 
The book, therefore, ends with a climactic scene that recounts that YHWH has 



30 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

chosen Israel and that Israel in turn has chosen Yhwh. 

As the book draws to a close, Canaanites remain in the land and 
peoples of the land live among the people of God. Israel's ethnic homogeneity, 
its obedience to the commands of Moses, and even its connection to the land 
have proven equivocal marks of national identity. Rather than constituting ends 
in themselves, the final scene of Joshua leads the reader to acknowledge that 
all find their meaning against the backdrop of those decisions which form the 
basis for Israel's unique existence as a people. In this way, the book of Joshua 
argues against associating Israel's distinctive identity with racial, religious, or 
territorial programs. Instead it affirms that Israel exists because Yhwh created 
it, accompanies it, and accomplishes the divine will through it. Ultimately, 
God's people are not defined by possession of a particular land, the correct and 
uniform performance of laws and commands, or by a sense of ethnic purity. 
Instead, Israel is a nation both created by Yhwh and established by the 
decisions of its members. 



31 




Herald 
Press 



Believers Church 

Bible Commentary Series 



These commentaries, informed by recent scholarship, are not 
overburdened with detail. They are written for lay leaders, 
teachers, pastors, college and seminary students, and all those 
searching the Bible for truth and life. 

The writers place each section of Scripture in the perspec- 
tive of the whole Bible and bring it into conversation with the 
past and present experience of God's people in the world. The 
format is unique: Preview, Outline, Explanatory Notes, Text in 
Biblical Context, and Text in the Life of the Church — thus 
providing a fine balance of exegesis, theological reflection, and 
life appropriation. 

Sponsored by six denominations, the BCBC series repre- 
sents the Anabaptist believers church tradition as a key per- 
spective for interpretation. 

Volumes currently available: 

Genesis by Eugene E Roop 

Exodus by Waldemar Janzen 

Judges by Terry L. Brensinger 

Jeremiah by Elmer A. Martens 

Ezekiel by Millard C. Lind 

Daniel by Paul M. Lederach 

Matthew by Richard B. Gardner 

Acts by Chalmer E. Faw 

Colossians, Philemon by Ernest D. Martin 

1 and 2 Thessalonians by Jacob W. Elias 

2 Corinthians by V. George Shillington 
Hosea, Amos by Allen R. Guenther 

1-2 Peter, Jude by Erland Waltner and J. Daryl Charles 

Paper, $24.99 each; m Canada $36.99 each 



Orders: 1 800 245-7894 

www.mph.org 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New 

Heritage 

David A. deSilva* 

Introduction 

The pastoral counselor, as I understand the vocation, differs from the 
secular analyst in that he or she draws upon the resources of Christian 
spirituality, and, in particular, the resources of Scripture as a means of 
facilitating the healing and wholeness of the client. It is out of this conviction 
that a seminary will require the pastoral counselor, like the pastor-in-training, 
to take courses in Hermeneutics, Old Testament Introduction, and New 
Testament Introduction, and to be exposed, at least in a preliminary way, to the 
art of exegesis. The close, careful investigation of Scripture proves to be most 
fruitful to the counselor's task, if he or she pursues it with rigor, applying the 
tools she or he learns in those foundational courses and continuing to seek out 
books that open up Scripture from those angles. On the one hand, the 
counselor can then identify and deconstruct unhealthful applications of 
Scripture in the counsellee's situation or background — misreadings that 
conduce to psychic disease rather than wholeness. On the other hand, she or 
he is less likely to use Scripture in a superficial and inauthentic manner. 
Instead, the counselor who "does his or her homework," as it were, in Biblical 
study as well as the study of psychological and relational dysfunctions and their 
treatment will be able skillfully to identify metaphors and images from the 
Scriptures that will be heathful for clients and redemptive for their situations. 
The purpose of this article is to provide some indication of the fruitfulness of 
deep exegetical study of one particular text, 1 Peter, for the counselor's task, 
and thus to motivate the counselor to integrate ever more completely the study 
of Scripture with the study of souls. 

Setting of 1 Peter 

The Greco-Roman world was filled with temples, shrines, and altars 
to various divinities. Piety was a primary component of the virtue of "justice," 
and people sought to give the gods their due in order to sustain divine favor 
toward their family, city and empire. Religion was not compartmentalized in 
this world, but entered into political meetings, convocations of trade guilds, 
private dinner parties, public festivals, and family meals. It sheltered all aspects 
of life like a great canopy. Participation in these religious rituals was a sign of 

*David deSilva (M.Div., Princeton; Ph.D., Emery) is Associate Professor of 
New Testament and Greek at ATS. 



33 



1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage 

solidarity with one's fellows, a token of one's commitment to do one's part for 
the well-being of the group and to sustain the domestic and public order, the 
stability of which was regarded as a necessary good for a tranquil and well- 
ordered life together. Those who did not even believe in the gods nevertheless 
worshiped them and stood by their fellow-citizens or family members in 
domestic and public rites, recognizing the social importance of these 
observances. 

Conversion to Christianity, like conversion to its parent religion, 
Judaism, meant abandoning participation in the worship of all gods other than 
the One God of whom no image could be fashioned. Avoiding all idolatrous 
cult was not merely a religious choice, but had profound reverberations in one's 
domestic and social life. Shunning the worship of all gods save the One tended 
to isolate the Christians from their former networks of patrons, friends and 
associates, as well as from non-Christian members of their household (unless, 
of course, the male head of the household, the paterfamilias, was himself a 
Christian, since the household was expected to worship of the gods of the 
pateifamilias). Absence at public occasions of worship and festivities would 
also come to be noticed. 

Christianity would be seen from outside as an infectious superstition 
that turned solid citizens of the Roman world and reliable friends and members 
of one's own household into an unreliable and rebellious lot. Separation from 
idols meant separation from idolaters on many occasions, hence the Christians 
would begin to look like a faction, a divisive element within society. 
Separation from idols often meant refusing to worship the gods of the head of 
the household, hence the Christian wife or slave would appear to rebel against 
the domestic order, perhaps even to seek to subvert it. Separation from idols 
also meant refusal of participation in the cult of the emperor, which was a 
prominent expression of loyalty and gratitude to the fount of aid in time of need 
— hence a blot on the city should the emperor's local representatives take 
notice. Like its parent religion, Christianity called its adherents to a strict moral 
code. While the high-minded philosophers Epictetus and Musonius Rufus 
might have adhered to similar standards, many in the Greco-Roman world 
would at least have regarded some license in drinking and the occasional sexual 
indiscretion as welcome diversions. Avoiding the activities and company of 
those with whom the believers used to carouse would be received as implicit 
censure and reinforced the widening rift between converts and their former 
associates. 

The Christians living in the five provinces addressed by 1 Peter — the 
Roman provinces of Asia, Bithynia, Ponius, Galatia, and Cappadocia, which 
occupy most of what is now called Turkey — had so "distinguished" 
themselves in the eyes of their non-Christian neighbors. These neighbors were 



34 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

indeed "surprised" that the Christians "no longer join them in the same excesses 
of dissipation," as the author colorfully describes Gentile life, particularly in 
"lawless idolatry" ( 1 Pet 4:3-4). The result is that the non-Christians have been 
applying the basic kinds of pressure that groups tend always to apply on 
deviants to get them to conform to the norms of the larger group. They have 
subjected the Christians to slander, insult, and, where possible, physical abuse 
(2:12, 15; 3:9, 16; 4:14-16; 5:9) in an attempt to "rehabilitate" their neighbors, 
that is, to bring them back to their old way of life and cause them to stop 
challenging that way of life by their withdrawal from it. It is particularly the 
converted slaves who appear to have been subject to beatings for their 
disobedience, that is, their refusal to participate in domestic rituals involving 
idolatrous rites (2: 1 8-2 1 ), though dark alleys also provide opportunities for free 
persons also to experience physical abuse at the hands of their disapproving 
neighbors. 

1 Peter is written quite specifically to assist the Christians come to 
terms with, and respond nobly to, this situation. First, the author seeks to 
insulate the Christians against viewing these experiences as negative reflections 
on their own honor and their commitment to follow Jesus. He is concerned to 
defuse the power that such censure and abuse might have to make the believers 
withdraw back into the life they chose to leave behind at their conversion. 
Second, the author directs the hearers to orient themselves toward each other 
in ways that will build up the bonds within the Christian community. Mutual 
love, encouragement, and help is to offset the erosion from outside and to 
enable each individual's perseverance in a way of life they have adopted as true 
and life-giving. Third, the author leads his addressees to make a response to 
their detractors that is in keeping with the way of life they have learned from 
Jesus, namely to bless those who curse and do good to those who harm. By 
studiously avoiding all actions that would confirm their neighbors' suspicions 
that Christianity leads one to criminal or subversive activity, the author hopes 
that the unbelievers will themselves come to realize the error of opposing a 
noble way of life. 

7. Parting with a futile inheritance 

The author develops a dominant image for the significance of the 
pilgrimage the Christians have made as they moved away from deep 
involvement in the idolatry of the Greco-Roman world, namely the image of a 
new birth. The Christians had previously been in bondage on account of the 
"futile ways inherited from [their] ancestors" (1:18). The heritage of this 
natural birth — the birth effected through "perishable seed" (1:23) — meant, 
according to the author, a sentence to an inauthentic life. The addressees had 
already spent many years worshiping gods that were no gods, engaging in 



35 



1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage 

social relations that merely counterfeited intimacy and fellowship and were not 
conducive to the formation of a centered, whole person: "You have already 
spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in 
licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry" 
(4:3). 

The message about Jesus changed their perception about this way of 
life, opening them up to an alternative that they recognized as more authentic, 
full of promise for deep human relationships built upon a stronger foundation 
of truth and mutual commitment. The author calls this conversion "a new birth 
into a living hope ... and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and 
unfading" (1:3-4). The believers have been granted the privilege of a renewed 
beginning, and so are called "like newborn babies" to "desire the pure spiritual 
milk" rather than sour that milk by allowing "malice, guile, insincerity, envy, 
and slander" to intrude upon their relationships with each other (2:1). "Like 
obedient children," upon whom the patterns of the parents are imprinted, the 
believers are to imitate their new Father (1:14-16), who sired them with the 
"imperishable seed" of the Word of the gospel (1:23-25). They are called to 
grow into holiness, rather than to continue in those patterns learned from their 
families of origin and the unbelieving society into which they were socialized 
(1 : 14, 18). A certain obligation attaches to persevering in this new birth, new 
identity, and new patterning, since the transition from their pre-Christian lives 
to their birth into God's household was effected only at great cost, namely the 
self-surrender of Jesus (1:18-21; 2:24-25; 3:18). 

This image certainly advanced the author's primary goal for the 
addressees, namely to insulate them from the social pressures they were 
experiencing. The image vividly reminded the hearers of the distance that 
existed now between them and the way of life they had chosen to leave behind 
in search of one that led them to a deeper communion with God and with each 
other. It reminded them, as well, of the undesirability of allowing those who 
still labored in slavery to that old way of life to pull those who had been 
liberated back into bondage. Finally, the image calls the hearers to persevere 
in living out that life for which they had been ransomed, growing into that 
person that their new birth enabled them to become. 

The author's image remains a powerful resource for assisting 
Christians to reflect upon the implications of discipleship, and it is a 
particularly potent resource for those on a counseling journey in particular. A 
great deal of attention is given in pastoral counseling to discerning the ways in 
which a person continues to be bound by defense mechanisms and 
dysfunctional patterns of behavior written deep into that person's relational 
instincts by years of training in "futile ways inherited from one's ancestors." 
The metaphor proclaims the real possibility of a decisive break with, and 



36 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

exodus from, that heritage, offering hope to those discouraged by the 
awesomeness of the journey they are attempting to make. As elements of that 
baggage are uncovered, the model also identifies those values, relational 
premises, and almost automatic reactions as elements of the "me" that the 
counselee is free no longer to be, as excluded from the "me" that the counselee 
is free to become. 

This dissociative aspect of the metaphor of "new birth, new hope, new 
inheritance" is equally vital for all seeking to grow in discipleship. We are 
continually confronted in our reading of Scripture, our life of prayer, and in our 
hearing of the proclaimed word with the incompatibility of particular aspects 
of the way of life learned in our "primary socialization" (whether in our homes 
of origin, our formal education, or our observation and experience of "the way 
of the world") and the way of life that reflects the holiness of God. 

Within 1 Peter, several premises that remain fundamental to human 
relations are overturned. The first of these concerns the "get even" mentality, 
declaring the desire to return harm for harm (or at least to withhold good from 
those who have done us harm) to be part of this futile inheritance, which is 
corrected by the example of Jesus: "'He committed no sin, and no deceit was 
found in his mouth.' When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he 
suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges 
justly" (2:22-23). In keeping with Jesus' teaching about what it meant to live 
as "children of the Father who is in heaven" (see Mt 5:44-48), the author of 1 
Peter instructs the believers bom into God's family not to "repay evil for evil 
or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that 
you were called — that you might inherit a blessing" (3:9). 

A second example can be found in the author's instructions to women 
(specifically to wives, but this one point can be broadened): "Do not adorn 
yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or 
fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty 
of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight" (3:3-4). As 
with so many portions of the New Testament, these verses have been applied 
in literalistic, legalistic, restrictive ways. Taken rightly, however, the author 
offers a word of liberation from bondage to seeking approval and self-esteem 
based on one's physical appeal (as well as the corollary, namely the tendency 
of men to measure women in this way). The author seeks to move the hearers 
toward more authentic interaction with and valuing of one another, receiving 
and giving affirmation based on the qualities of the soul rather than the appeal 
of the body (the latter being inevitably tied to sexual motivations, the former to 
harmony and partnership of the inner persons). 

The image of leaving behind the values and relational patterns learned 
apart from God in favor of growing into the new person birth into God's family 



37 



1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage 

makes a possibility can thus continually hold before believers the challenge of 
"unlearning" and abandoning those premises and patterns that hinder the 
formation of Christ in us. The result of leaving behind a way of life that 
alienates one from God and from authentic and full relationships with other 
people means relief from the internal battle, from "the desires of the flesh that 
wage war against the soul" (2:11). The author shares with Paul the basic 
dualistic understanding of the human person (see Gal 5: 16-25): as one indulges 
the passions of the flesh one harms one's own soul. This understanding does 
not seek to destroy or suppress physical pleasure, but all those forces that 
contribute to inauthentic or hurtful or dysfunctional relationships, as the list of 
"passions" in Gal 5:19-21 makes clear. 

The call to holiness (1:14-16) is a call to integrity, to commit wholly' 
to one set of values and way of life rather than limping between several 
mutually antagonistic ways of life. The author' s direction to set all one' s hope 
on the favor that comes with the establishing of God's kingdom serves to 
sustain this commitment and to sustain a single-hearted focus rather than 
allowing divergent hopes and ambitions to rob us of the integrity of living 
wholly in God's light and in response to God's call. The "ransom" provided 
by Jesus' giving of himself does not merely effect freedom "from" a destructive 
way of life but also freedom "for" a new life. Obedience to God's leading — 
discipline with regard to the temptations to return to the well-known ways 
learned from childhood — is essential for finding integrity and wholeness in the 
new person that Jesus enables the believer to become. With healing comes a 
new purpose, with freedom from dysfunctional and restrictive patterns and 
impulses comes a new direction for life (1:2; 2:9; 2:24; 3:10-12). 

2. 1 Peter and Suffering 

Perhaps no New Testament book is as dedicated to helping believers 
come to terms with, and respond to, suffering as 1 Peter. We must be very 



'The homophony of "wholeness" and "holiness" is more than a 
serendipitous pun. Defilement and uncleanness in the Jewish purity codes were 
often directly related to lack of wholeness (= holiness) of the skin, the bodily 
orifices, and other representations of boundaries. On this topic, see further 
Mary Douglas, "Atonement in Leviticus," Jewish Studies Quarterly 1 
(1993/94) 109-130.; J. H. Neyrey, "Body Language in 1 Corinthians: The Use 
of Anthropological Models for Understanding Paul and His Opponents," 
Semeia 35 (1986) 129-170. Readers may also wish to consult chapter 4 of D. 
A. deSilva, Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity: Unlocking New Testament 
Culture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000). 

38 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

clear here about the precise kind of suffering about which the author speaks, or 
else we will come to misapply this resource. The author addresses people who 
have encountered resistance, insult, censure, and even physical abuse because 
of their commitment to respond to Christ and to do what God commands. It is 
their obedience to the commandment to avoid worship of other gods that, in the 
main, has led to the pressures being brought to bear on them in the household 
(in the case of wives and slaves) and in the street. The author is not speaking 
about suffering in general, encompassing all disease, chronic illness, domestic 
abuse, or political oppression in his statements about suffering. 

I must especially stress that domestic violence and abusive marriages 
are not "sanctioned" in some way by this text. The proximity of instructions 
to wives in 3:1-6 and discussions of suffering abuse (2:18-25; 3:13-17) has led 
to such problematic applications, with the result that some pastors or other 
Christian friends will advise a spouse to remain in an abusive relationship 
because this is God's will (3:17; 4:19). Physical abuse between spouses, 
however, was not sanctioned even by Greco-Roman statutes, and so 
persevering in an abusive relationship cannot have been an aspect of the 
witness to the unbelieving spouse encouraged in 3:1-6. Rather, the author is 
speaking very specifically about suffering endured for "doing what is right" 
(2:20; 3:14), for "doing good" (3:17), "for the name of Christ" (4:14), and for 
"bearing the name" of "a Christian" (4: 1 6). Suffering "in line with God's will" 
(4: 19) is quite explicidy limited by this author to suffering encountered because 
obedience to Jesus' call, teaching, and example has brought one to that point 
of conflict with those who resist God's vision for human relationships. 

This is the condition of a considerable portion of the global family of 
God. I have found a general reluctance among Christians in the West to learn 
about and speak of the persecution encountered by sisters and brothers abroad, 
although I would not presume to diagnose the causes for this silence. 
Nevertheless, a part of the Body of Christ is subjected still to censure, 
discrimination, disprivilege, and even imprisonment and death on account of 
its confession of faith. It is also the lot of many who stand up for God's vision 
of a just society, who take the lead against systems that guard the privilege of 
one group at the expense of the well-being of another group. One need only 
remember the resistance to, and suffering endured by, those who were "eager 
to do what was good" in recent history — Martin Luther King, Jr. and pastors 
and laity who sought to advance Civil Rights, Nelson Mandela and Allan 
Boesak, jailed for their witness in South Africa, and the confessors and martyrs 
of the Russian churches whose stories have become known since the 
dissolution of the Soviet Union are but a few examples. If "suffering for doing 
what is right" or for the sake of the name of Christ seem remote, it may be a 
sign that we have retreated far from those areas where the message of God 



39 



1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage 

would have us challenge the structures and practices by which our own land 
sustains its status quo. 

1 Peter speaks to all who encounter resistance and suffering because 
they are going where God leads them, speaking up for God's truth, searching 
for a new model for human relationships built on a stronger foundation than 
individual or systemic defense mechanisms. The author's desire is that the 
believer not be defeated or intimidated by such resistance (3:14), but rather be 
faithful to God's leading whatever the cost. He seeks to embolden believers 
to heed God's leading wherever that would take them: if it takes them into 
places where they will encounter the resistance of family, friends, or those who 
have power over life and freedom itself, it still has not taken them out of God's 
favor nor deprived them of the honor in which God holds them (4: 14-16). At 
many points in this letter, the author specifically speaks of the honor — the 
dignity — that these marginalized believers have by virtue of their place in 
God's family (2:4-5, 9-10; 4:14-16). He also encourages them in the midst of 
their trials that honor will be the outcome of their perseverance (1:7; 2:6-8;^ 
5:6). These passages are resources for the encouragement of all who must 
persevere in the face of hostility if they are to arrive at the growth that God 
desires for them. 

As 1 Peter gives us a window into the experiences of rejection and 
"rehabilitation" suffered by Christians at the hands of their non-Christian 
neighbors, it also connects with the experiences of many who, whether 
deepening in their discipleship or pursuing the healing of a counseling journey, 
encounter resistance from their natural families or circles of associates. When 
one member of a co-dependent team reaches for a more authentic existence, the 
other member is likely to respond negatively, to exert whatever pressure 
possible to maintain the relational patterns that, though mutually harmful, are 
controllable, known, and safe. When one member of a family ceases to play the 



^1 Pet 2:6-8 is one place where close attention to the Greek text is 
more helpful than most available English translations. These latter rather 
consistently mistranslate 2:7 as "to you then who believe, he is precious" 
(NRSV; see also the NASV, JB, RSV, and NIV), as if the author were still 
speaking about the believers' perception of Jesus, the cornerstone. The Greek 
has not the adjective "precious" (timios), however, but the related noun, 
"honor" {time): "Honor, then, is for you who believe." The author is 
developing a projection of the consequences of trusting Jesus introduced in the 
Psalm text quoted in 2:6, which promises that "whoever believes in him will 
not be put to shame." The Christians will come to honor for their commitment, 
while their detractors will come to shame (they will "stumble" and "fall"). 

40 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

games endemic to a dysfunctional family, the other members are likely to 
endeavor to pressure that individual to resume the role assigned him or her. 
Why? One member of the system may be ready to call those games into 
question, to set them aside, and discover a new and more authentic way of 
relating, but the others may not respond kindly to having those games, forged 
and perfected through years of practice and maintained by the weight of strong 
defense mechanisms, critically examined and threatened. This can be observed 
on the societal level as well: when beloved systems or values, however evil and 
hurtful to human relationships, are called into question rather than sustained 
through quiet participation, those who depend on those systems or values 
respond violently. These dynamics were very much on the surface as apartheid 
in South Africa or segregation in America were challenged from within; they 
were equally on the surface as Roman imperial ideology was challenged by 
Christian prophets in the late-first/early-second centuries. 

The author's words to people facing this kind of pressure from those 
who embraced the life they left behind may still prove helpful when counseling 
or encouraging fellow-believers facing similar pressures today. First, he 
reminds them of the undesirability of returning to that way of life (l:18;4:l-5). 
There were strong reasons for leaving it in favor of a new one, and those 
reasons urge perseverance in the way to life. Though resuming society's or 
one's family's dysfunctional games and values would bring relief from tension 
on some fronts, it would also bring the greater tension of having exchanged the 
hope of freedom for a return to slavery. Second, he instructs them to show their 
detractors that the way of life they have found is a good one, one productive of 
what is noble, kind, and beneficent. The author trusts that the quiet display of 
virtue and authenticity has its own power of persuasion (2:12, 15; 3:1-2). 
Third, he urges them to be directed by God and by the example of Christ in all 
their dealings with other people. The laws of retaliation, of acting toward 
others as they act, inflict their own slavery upon the human soul. 

The author is concerned that believers respond to those who have 
grieved them in such a way as reflects God's kindness rather than the hostile 
society's malice. Not returning ill for ill, but extending blessing remains the 
hallmark of Christian response. The Christian response to hostility is not to 
accept that the hostile ones have become a "them" divided from some "us." We 
are not free to hate those who hate us, nor to curse those who injure us. The 
task of pastoral counseling is not completed until the patient so experiences 
God's love that he or she can see that love extending to the other members of 
a dysfunctional, hurtful household (even if he or she will not be the one to take 
that love there). The persecuted one who learns to hate the persecutor has lost 
the best part of his or her faith, namely the love that is more valuable than 
martyrdom (to borrow from 1 Cor 13:3). 



41 



1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage 

3. The Church as Household of God 

In light of the numerous and variegated struggles encountered by 
individuals and groups as they follow the leading of God's Spirit — whether 
that leading invites them on journeys toward inner healing and the resistance 
one can encounter on such journeys, or compels them to take a stand against 
prevailing social norms, marking them as targets for those who have much 
invested in the status quo — it is not surprising to find most New Testament 
authors emphasizing the importance of the community of faith as a resource for 
the individual believer. 

1 Peter opens by giving voice to, and legitimating, that sense of not 
belonging yet yearning for belonging. He calls the hearers "exiles of the 
Diaspora" (1 : 1), applying to these (mostly) Gentile Christians titles taken from 
Israel's experience of being removed from their homeland and being scattered 
amongst the Gentile nations. As he continues, he gives instructions for their 
conduct "during the time of your exile" (1:17) and acknowledges their lack of 
place "as aliens and exiles" (2:11). It has been suggested that the terms 
"resident alien" and "sojourner" speak of the legal, non-citizen status of the 
Christians in Asia Minor: lacking a real place in their cities, these people were 
drawn to the Christian movement as a place where they could "belong." Others 
have taken issue with this reading, viewing the terms as more metaphorical, 
speaking of their lack of citizenship on earth because they now are citizens of 
heaven.^ The former position suffers from the fact that there is no way to prove 
that the author uses these terms in a legal, non-figurative sense (especially when 
other early Christian writers do employ the language metaphorically), but the 
latter position also suffers from not reckoning with the difficult social and 
economic circumstances that many early Christians faced. 

I would suggest that, prior to their conversion, the addressees were 
very much "at home" with their neighbors and in their cities. They have, 
however, suffered a serious loss of place and loss of any sense of belonging as 
a result of their conversion, their withdrawal from so much of the way of life 
that formerly connected them with their neighbors (4:3-4). They have become 
outcasts in their own city. 1 Peter stresses, however, that they have also at the 
same time "come home." They have returned to their home in God's love 
("you were wandering like sheep, but you have returned to the Shepherd and 



^J. H. Elliott (A Home for the Homeless: A Sociological Exegesis ofl 
Peter, Its Situation, and Strategy [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981]) pioneered the 
former hypothesis; Troy Martin (Metaphor and Composition in 1 Peter 
[SBLDS 131; Atlanta: Scholars, Press, 1992]) has more recently criticized it in 
favor of a metaphorical interpretation. 

42 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Guardian of your souls," 2:25; 3: 18) and in the love of the community of sisters 
and brothers in Christ (1:22; 3:8; 4:8-10). The community of Christians must 
function as a place of belonging during the time of exile — an exile that ends 
only with this mortal life. Each member is brought, as it were, to a construction 
site where God is fitting them together into a "spiritual house" (2:4-5), an 
honored household serving the One God as priests. 

The ethos of the local church can be much informed and formed by 
some words from Philo of Alexandria, perhaps the most famous first-century 
Jewish philosopher. Articulating the obligation laid upon Jews to welcome 
converts from the Gentiles, he writes: 

Having given equal rank and honour to all those who come 

over, and having granted to them the same favours that were 

bestowed on those bom Jews, Moses recommends those who 

are ennobled by truth not only to treat the converts with 

respect, but even with special friendship and excessive 

benevolence.... Those people who have left their country, 

and their friends, and their relations for the sake of virtue and 

holiness, ought not to be left destitute of other cities, and 

houses, and friends, but there ought to be places of refuge 

always ready for those who come over to religion (The 

Special Laws 1.52). 

Philo recognized that the Jewish community needed to compensate the loss 

suffered by Gentiles leaving behind all the associations built around idolatry 

with their own acceptance, support, love, and friendship. Jesus no doubt had 

a similar vision in mind when he assured those who had left family and house 

for his sake that they would find a much larger family and many houses open 

to them in the movement they were starting (Mark 10:28-30). Individual 

perseverance would depend in large measure upon the acceptance and 

attachments each found within this new family. 

Realizing the importance of building up this network of support, the 
author of 1 Peter also urges the local congregations he addresses to work 
toward being the "household of God" one to another: "now that you have 
purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine 
mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart" (1:22). The word 
translated "mutual love" in the NRSV actually connotes "the love of siblings 
toward one another" (Philadelphia). The author taps into the ethics of kinship 
to fill out his vision for life as a church. The love of siblings expressed itself 
in considering property to be held in common for the good of all, in cooperating 
rather than competing in endeavors, and in preserving unity and harmony 
within the group. Siblings, ideally, operated with complete honesty and trust 
toward one another. Several of the author's exhortations capture aspects of this 



43 



1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage 

ethic quite explicitly: 

Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, 
insincerity, envy, and all slander (2:1). 
Have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender 
heart, and a humble mind (3:8). 

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love 
covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another 
without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold 
grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of 
you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one 
speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so 
with the strength that God supplies (4:8-1 1). 
The early Christian leaders sought to form this ethos within the church empire- 
wide, which had become a single family related in fact by blood, but now the 
blood of Jesus. 

In countries where converts to Christianity face the same loss of 
family and other support networks on account of their confession, the author's 
words continue to be vital instructions for the survival of personal faith. 
Western churches, however, also need ever to strive at becoming well- 
functioning, supportive, caring families both to enable individuals' 
perseverance and growth in discipleship and to enable the healing of those 
whose natural kinship groups are the source of psychological or physical injury. 
Congregations can become the most important partners to the pastoral 
counselor in the healing of the emotionally and psychologically wounded, as 
the latter find in a church not merely "nice people" but people willing to take 
on the roles of sisters and brothers, providing friendship, listening ears, open 
homes. 

Hospitality was essential to the success of the early church since 
teachers and messengers of the churches relied on willing believers to open 
their homes to them, but hospitality was also the visible sign that the believer 
had joined a global family. Wherever he or she went, he or she would not be 
without the ties of mutual affection and help that came from devotion to the 
One Lord. The reality of the family of God continues to come to expression 
when believers open their homes to a wife who needs to distance herself from 
an abusive husband, to Christians from abroad sojourning here (whether as 
students or as refugees), to the youth of the church as a place for mentoring and 
fellowship, and the like. "Show hospitality without grumbling" (4:9): take the 
family of God into your natural family domicile. 

Churches are filled with gifted people. Some have an abundance of 
money and goods to share; others have compassionate hearts for listening and 
visiting; others have the gift of being spiritually centered people able to lead 



44 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Others to that same centeredness. Whatever the gifts, the author avers that God 
has planted them in each of us for the building up of one another. His 
directions in 4:8-11 especially lead us to continue to ask ourselves and our 
churches what these gifts are and how they can be used for God's family locally 
and globally. The most important vehicle for God's healing, deliverance, and 
transformation is the local congregation, and 1 Peter invites each congregation 
to set aside every distraction and focus completely on sustaining one another 
— the habitual church member, the counsellee who comes for the first time at 
the suggestion of a pastoral counselor, and the family in Indonesia that has had 
its house burned to the ground in an anti-Christian terrorist act — on the 
journey to the imperishable inheritance that God would bestow on each of us. 
Pastoral counselors, pastors or missionaries from abroad, and local 
congregations and their pastors would do well to dialog with one another 
concerning how a local congregation can best serve as an agent of healing and 
support for the whole family of God. 

4. The Natural (Christian) Household 

1 Peter, like Ephesians and Colossians, includes codes for conduct 
within the household. Unlike Ephesians and Colossians, which give reciprocal 
instructions to all three sets of relationships in the typical household (master 
and slaves, husbands and wives, parents and children), 1 Peter only addresses 
slaves, wives, and, most briefly, husbands. Since it is often the case that more 
fundamentalist groups will teach that these rules are still binding upon wives 
and husbands, it would be fitting to consider their significance and purpose so 
as to forestall (or remedy) unheal thful applications of these passages. 

The author's instructions to women bear a marked resemblance to the 
picture of the ideal wife in the writings of Greek and Latin ethicists, as well as 
to Hellenistic Jewish authors."* Submission to the husband' s authority, modesty, 
and quietness were the major components of this portrait. This submission did 
not include, however, acceptance of domestic violence, which was actionable 
then as now as a category of assault. Nor was submissiveness meant to limit 
or downplay the contributions of the wife in a household. Xenophon, for 
example, regarded men and women as differently and complementarily gifted 
for the effective management of a household and rearing of children, each 
contributing essential strengths not possessed by the other. Neither did 



''For a more thorough introduction to this topic, please see 
"Management of, and Behavior within, the Household" in chapter 3 of D. A. 
deSilva, Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity: Unlocking New Testament 
Culture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000). 

45 



1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage 

submissiveness mean doing everything the husband said: the believing wife 
was certainly obliged to disobey an unbelieving husband's urging to return to 
the worship of his gods. The wife is called by the author to "do what is good" 
and not to yield to intimidation (3:6). 

We must also reckon with the agenda behind the author' s instructions. 
It was critical for him that unbelievers should understand that Christians did not 
seek to subvert the domestic and social order, one of the primary suspicions 
cast upon them. Their refusal of certain obligations (mostly those that included 
some idolatrous component) did not mean that they sought to bring unrest to 
homes and cities everywhere. Seeking to appear not to subvert these domestic 
norms is a very different goal from seeking indefinitely to perpetuate them. 
Those who read such passages as 3:1-6 as a template for husband- wife 
relationships as God meant them to be enacted through all time fail to take into 
account the author's very specific and culture-bound purposes in giving these 
instructions. Positively, the author wants unbelievers to see that responding to 
this Jesus resulted in the formation of many of the virtues prized by the 
dominant culture as well. This would, he hoped, make their neighbors revise 
their opinion of the Christian group and perhaps grow to accept it, if not join 
it. 

The most important safeguards against applying the instructions to 
wives in a manner that acts to suppress a wife's growth, harm her self-esteem, 
or undervalue her contributions to home, church, and world, are the instructions 
to husbands. Where these are taken seriously, it is less likely that the 
instructions to wives will be applied in ways that appeal to the carnal mind — 
that mind shaped in us not by God but by the "futile ways inherited from our 
ancestors." I cannot help but recall here the ugliness of a man who rejoiced to 
share with me how submissive his wife was, how women were in their "proper 
place" in their church (i.e., veiled and in the back), and so forth. Such 
emphasis on domestic hierarchies and the reinforcement of the female's 
second-class status in the spatial arrangements of the church are far from the 
author's vision of a Christian marriage. 

The English translations tend to skew the Greek text once again (as at 
2:7). Consider, for example, the NRSV of 3:7: "Husbands, in the same way, 
show consideration for your wives in your life together, paying honor to the 
woman as the weaker sex, since they too are also heirs of the gracious gift of 
life — so that nothing may hinder your prayers." This translation obscures the 
motive clauses given by the author for each action, namely "showing 
consideration" and "paying honor." A better rendering would read: "in your 
living together, show consideration for your wives as to the weaker sex, 
offering honor to the woman as also to joint heirs of the gracious gift of life." 
Greco-Roman authors also held that the physical vulnerability of the female 



46 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

ought to provoke gentleness and consideration from the husband, tempering 
rather than inviting any domineering spirit. 1 Peter, however, goes further than 
this by drawing attention to the Christian wife's status as a co-heir of that gift 
toward which all Christians' hope is directed. This status must result in the 
husband honoring the wife as one favored and honored by God, and to filter all 
his words, attitudes, and actions toward her through this lens. Any attempt to 
apply 3:1-6 in a way that violates the wife's honor as co-heir of God's kingdom 
must therefore be ruled out-of-bounds. 

The author offers a second safeguard in his concluding summary 
exhortations in 3:8, which functions here much as Eph 5:21 does for that 
household code: "Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for 
one another [specifically, again, love for one another as that between siblings], 
a tender heart, and a humble mind." The fact that Christian couples are also 
children of the same Heavenly Parent, that is, sister and brother, overlays 
another code of ethics upon the typical patterns of marital roles. The ethic of 
siblings promotes the quest for harmony and concord — agreement rather than 
suppression of one voice in favor of another's voice, cooperation for the good 
of the whole family rather than competition for power and precedence (such as 
lurks not far beneath the surface of many attempts to revive the patriarchal 
models of the first century in twentieth and twenty-first century homes). 
Sympathy, tenderness, and, especially, humility, are antithetical to forcing one's 
way on another or attempting to assert dominance over another. Perhaps it is 
here, in the example of Jesus the humble one, that one finds the most powerful, 
yet overlooked, death-blow to hierarchical and authoritarian arrangements of 
the Christian household. 

Counselors and pastors need especially to be aware of the way the 
household codes in the New Testament have been used in the lives of their 
charges (not to mention be cautious about their own application of them to 
family life). The very Scriptures that can heal are frequently used as weapons 
of ideological warfare in power struggles and other divisive and hurtful games, 
and it is sorrowful that the Scriptures are frequently invoked to demean those 
very daughters God seeks to elevate. 

5. Where is God in the midst of Suffering? 

In a letter so focused on the problem of suffering, it is natural to 
inquire into what this author may contribute to finding God and encountering 
God's sustaining strength in the midst of suffering. First, it is imperative to 
remember that 1 Peter does not address suffering in general, such that his 
remarks on suffering can be applied to the experience of disease or violent 
crime or mental anguish. Rather, as we have already discussed, the author 
speaks to the situation of suffering for the sake of doing what is just and for the 



47 



1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage 

sake of being associated with Jesus and his challenge to the world. 

The author assures Christians facing such trials that God is present 
with them in the midst of suffering. It was important to help the believers 
understand that the resistance they encountered and losses they endured were 
not a sign that they were out of favor with God, but rather assured them that 
they were moving in precisely the direction that God was leading. First, it was 
God who provided for their redemption from a futile way of life, dissociation 
from which is the cause of their present suffering (1:19). God set them on the 
journey they have begun, and the believers remain "protected by the power of 
God ... for a deliverance about to be revealed" ( 1 :5) in the midst of their trials. 
In the midst of the censure and insult they endure, God associates God's own 
Spirit with them personally: "If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are 
blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on 
you" (4:14). Far from separating them from God, their endurance of trials 
confirms their intimacy with God. 

Moreover, the author assures them that God is intensely concerned 
about each believer in the midst of trial. Quoting Psalm 34: 15, he writes: "the 
eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer." 
This he turns into a reassuring exhortation in 5:7: "Cast all your anxiety on him, 
because he cares for you." As did Jesus, Paul, the author of Hebrews and as 
would John, this author also calls the Christians to take hold of prayer as a 
powerful resource by which to counter anxiety and fear and to find the strength 
to persevere. He fully expects that God will intervene to "restore, support, 
strengthen, and establish" those who have endured suffering for righteousness' 
sake (5:10). God is also present to help in the community of faith: "Whoever 
speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must 
do so with the strength that God supplies" (4:1 1). Words of encouragement 
and direction, acts of love and service, are all signs of God's power at work to 
sustain God's sons and daughters. 

As Jesus himself had "entrusted himself to the one who judges justly" 
(2:23), so Christians who encounter undeserved resistance and deviancy-control 
measures are called to "entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while 
continuing to do good" (4:19). Vindication may not come in this life, but the 
vindication of Jesus' honor at his resurrection continues to provide the 
assurance for believers that their dignity and worth, too, will be vindicated by 
God — on that Day when their present perseverance in suffering will be 
awarded its due "praise and glory and honor" (1:7). 

1 Peter's assurances about God's presence and aid in the midst of 
suffering still offer words of encouragement and strategies for perseverance in 
cases where the search for light — whether that light means the discovery and 
relinquishing of dysfunctional relational habits or the exodus from societal 



48 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

values in favor of God's vision for humanity — results in the experience of 
hostility, censure, and even violence. It is important to emphasize for such 
people where God is not: God is not in the reproaches and abuse of the 
unbelievers punishing the sufferers, but with the believers in the midst of their 
experiences of hostility and resistance. 

That these believers are "suffering in accordance with God's will" 
means that their obedience to God's will and alignment with God's cause has 
resulted in suffering, not that God delights in abusing God's faithful ones nor 
that God seeks to make life difficult for those who seek to leave behind death- 
dealing and inauthentic ways of life. Early Christians spoke of sufferings being 
endured in accordance with God's will as a way of expressing the conviction 
that the experience of persecution for righteousness' sake was not something 
beyond God's power, nor did it place one beyond God's favor and help. It also 
expressed the conviction that the experience of resistance and suffering 
provided the fire by which the human soul was rendered workable by God, like 
gold or silver in the smith's oven (see 1:6-7). 

Such a view of God's place in the sufferings of the believers 
ultimately was intended to assist the believers to withstand the pressures that 
weighed upon them from without, to empower them to remain true to their own 
choices and to the vision they had accepted for themselves. It also sought to 
redeem those very experiences by calling attention to the good purposes God 
could achieve in the believer's life and in the shape of the believer's character 
by means of the crucible of suffering: the Christian was able to focus thus not 
on being victimized by unbelievers, but to search out the ways in which his or 
her virtue, character, and inner strength was being refined. These formulations 
resulted, of course, in a theological problem with no solution in sight — but it 
may help to keep pushing past the problematic formulations and inquiring into 
the pastoral goals that gave rise to them in the first place.^ 

6. A Word to Elders from an Elder 

The author, "a fellow elder," gives some directions to "the elders" 
among the many Christians communities in the five provinces he addresses 
(5:1). One difficulty in knowing how to take his directions is our lack of clarity 
concerning the organization of the church in the first century. "Elder," 
"overseer," and "deacon" all appear to have been "offices" by the end of the 



^Perhaps no better formulation has been made than Gen 50:20, in 
which God's ability to redeem and use even that which humans enact with 
harmful intent comes to powerful expression: "you intended to do harm to me, 
but God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people." 

49 



1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage 

first century, the latter two receiving much attention in the Pastoral Epistles 
with regard to qualifications for serving in these capacities. By "elder," did the 
author have in mind people named to an appointed office or simply those who, 
by reason of their seniority in the community, were the "natural" leaders within 
a particular Christian community? The contrast between the "elders" addressed 
in 5:1-4 and the "younger ones" in 5:5 suggests that seniority and leadership 
were closely linked in the early church, as would be expected in the 
Mediterranean cultures where age, wisdom, and authority were regarded as 
natural counterparts. The possibility of exercising oversight "under 
compulsion" (5:2), however, suggests that congregations called upon some of 
their senior members to look after the local Christian community. We might 
expect these duties to have included aspects of pastoral care, orchestrating relief 
within the local church, and presiding over assemblies (not necessarily doing 
all the teaching or praying or the like, for several local Christians would be 
regarded as spiritually gifted in such areas). 

We should not merely apply the author's exhortations to "elders" here 
to "paid staff (e.g., pastors), although as representatives of the general ministry 
of the whole church it must apply to them as well. The exhortations need to be 
extended, however, to all the "natural" leaders in a congregation. Many 
churches suffer from a lack of indigenous, "natural leadership," whether 
because responsibility is deferred to the "paid staff," because the "elders" in a 
church are overlooked when responsibilities are delegated, or because those 
with experience and giftedness nevertheless avoid responsibility within the 
church. The other side of the spectrum is just as problematic, where a few 
"elders" attempt to control the congregation. 1 Peter calls for leadership that 
is both healthy and strong, challenging the elders in churches at both ends of 
this spectrum. 

Caring for one another in the family of faith is no less an obligation 
than caring for one another in a natural family. Just as the well-functioning 
natural family exercises this care in diligent and healthful ways, so the well- 
functioning family of God does the same. Where we err either to the side of 
neglecting the care of the family or to the side of using care as a means of 
control, we move toward a dysfunctional family. Lay leadership within the 
church, whether in administrative capacities, in pastoral care ministries (like the 
Stephen Ministries), or in outreach or education is essential to the growth and 
health of the family of God. Being nominated to a committee or asked to teach 
the Senior High can be approached as an unwanted burden or an opportunity 
to "exercise the oversight" for the good of the family of God. The author 
clearly hopes that such leaders will adopt the latter approach, understanding 
that God equips and strengthens those whom God calls out in such ways (4:11). 
He urges lay leaders (and today we must include paid staff) to understand their 



50 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

work as an invitation to work with God to strengthen and build the church, and 
thus to give specific expression to the general obligation to show love for their 
sisters and brothers. 

What motivates these leaders? The author excludes two possible 
motives immediately, namely material gain and the enjoyment of power over 
others. In the first century, local leaders would not have been paid but still 
would have had opportunity to use their position to increase their wealth. 
Being in charge of relief funds, for example, might have made it tempting to 
skim off an administrative or handling fee. They might have thought to extort 
gifts, services, and favors from their sisters and brothers, presenting requests 
for such goods and services as the suitable "return" for their own generosity 
and service. Reciprocity was a core value in the Greco-Roman world of 
patrons, friends, and clients, and could be exploited. This remains a danger 
facing leaders in the church. Giving of oneself to the young, the homeless, the 
shut-ins, the unchurched is not to be approached as an opportunity for worldly 
gains, whether community prestige or networking for one's business, or the 
like. Moreover, some of the most important work we will ever do in this life 
is the work for which there is no paycheck. Many are losing sight of this as 
they shy away from making commitments to services and responsibilities apart 
from their "paying" jobs. 

"Elders" are not to be drawn into the trap of working for money or 
seeking other temporal compensations for their labors in the family of God. 
Their reward is imperishable, namely unfading honor in Christ's kingdom: to 
set one's mind to calculating how to wrangle material or temporal rewards 
alongside this shows a small spirit. Since many churches have moved to a 
situation in which some of its leadership is salaried — that is, since the 
apostolic situation no longer holds — application of the author's words to paid 
pastors and other staff must take this shift into account. In this regard, pastors 
are reminded that they went into the work of full-time ministry not for the 
money but in response to God's call. Salaried church leaders cannot forget this. 
It does happen from time to time that ministers and their families are unable to 
meet their necessary expenses because of inadequate compensation. In such 
cases, ministers need to be honest with their congregations about their needs 
and congregations need to respond as God (not fiscal conservatism) leads. It 
is also the case, however, that American culture approaches money and material 
possessions from the standpoint of "more" rather than "enough." Part of being 
"examples to the flock" includes modeling some very un-American values, 
such as discerning when a salary, however small in comparison with many 
professionals' salaries, is "enough," and understanding that "more" is not 
necessarily "better." Compensation for one's labor and a benefits package are 
not the same thing, at least where one takes the promise of 5:4 seriously: "when 



51 



1 Peter: Strategies for Counseling Individuals on the Way to a New Heritage 

the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of honor." 

Healthful leadership also resists the temptation to dominate, and it is 
a powerful temptation to resist. An "elder" in a local church might regard his 
recompense for good and faithful service to be the unspoken "right" to have 
things go his way, both within and beyond his sphere of immediate 
involvement. A pastor or counselor might forget the healing arts as she seeks 
to "dominate" the patient in her role as "expert" in a theological disagreement. 
Whatever the scenario, good shepherding requires the dismissal of every inner 
drive to dominate. The hierarchy described by the author of 1 Peter is helpful 
in this regard: there is one chief shepherd. To all other shepherds belongs 
neither the flock nor the turf, but only the opportunity and obligation to tend 
what is another's. 

Those who are able to lead without concern for gain or self-assertion 
are indeed powerful examples to the flock, living parables of Jesus' own 
leadership style. There are other ways in which Christians "elders" and other 
leaders can distinguish themselves for Christ as they distinguish themselves 
from Western styles and expectations of leaders. One of these involves 
modeling transparency and vulnerability, refusing to perpetuate the widespread 
conspiracy of hiding one's brokenness under a thin veneer of cheerful 
appearances for fear of non-acceptance. Avoidance of self-disclosure out of 
this fear is a basic dysfunction in human relationships, although it is often 
perceived as "strength" in a leader. Within the context of the church, however, 
any such strategies that limit knowledge of and care for one another — in short, 
limit opportunities for God' s healing power to be at work — should be rejected. 
If leaders are to devote themselves to the care of the family of God, the 
reciprocal responsibility is clear. Those who benefit from the self-giving of 
others ought not to make the faithful exercise of vigilant oversight any more 
difficult than it needs to be: "in the same way, you who are their juniors must 
submit yourselves to the elders" (5:5). Humility (acting with respect for the 
honor and contributions of the other) in all our dealings with one another is 
again the key to the well-functioning church family. 



52 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Church History Experienced: 
A Tour of Great Britain and Ireland 

by William D. Meyer* 

What I saw and experienced during an Ashland Theological Seminary 
church-history class and tour of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales will 
undoubtedly differ from what many others on the trip did. This is, quite 
understandably, because what I saw and experienced was filtered through my 
personal history and personal theological concerns. 

Several general themes stood out to me at most of the church history 
sites during the visit from May 3 1 , 2000, to June 17, 2000. One of the themes 
was establishment and whether it really works long term to the advantage of the 
church and to the glory of God. (My conclusion is that it generally does not.) 
Another theme is that of the relationship of the church to the larger social issues 
of the day and noting where the church failed and where the church succeeded. 
(Puritan intervention in Ireland under Oliver Cromwell is a dramatic example 
of the former. The Wesleyan campaign against slavery and the slave trade is an 
example of the latter.) 

Nevertheless, most significant for me was reflecting on how I 
processed the intellectual and theological and personal challenge of complex 
historical situations and faith journeys different from my own. This theme is 
basically about tolerance and my own struggle not to react defensively and 
dismissively to the unfamiliar and the difficult. 

Establishment 

One of the standout impressions for me was the contrast between the 
early morning worship service at St. Paul's Cathedral in London and three later 
worship services at All Souls Church, where John Stott is the senior pastor. 

Though St. Paul's was architecturally beautiful and is clearly a British 
national monument (Prime Minister Winston Churchill invested significant 
human resources to make sure that St. Paul's was saved during the German 
bombing of London in World War II.), the worship experience for me was 
somewhat deadening and frankly rather alienating. 

Though I have no objection to highly liturgical worship, I noted with 
sadness that there were fewer than 50 people present for the early worship 
service. Even though some individuals at St. Paul's cared, the institution was 
clearly not oriented to the comfort and welcome of outsiders. After riding the 
subway from our hotel to St. Paul's, I wanted to find the men's bathroom 15 
minutes before worship was to start. So I asked the man passing out prayer 
books at the back of the cathedral where to find it. He directed me outside the 
cathedral. After walking nearly all the way around the building, I still couldn't 



53 



Church History Experienced: A Tour of United Kingdom and Ireland 

find it. 10 minutes later, I returned for more directions. Then, after going 
outside again, I did find the building that contained the restrooms. But all the 
doors were locked. 

So when I did return inside the cathedral, I was now late. The worship 
service had already begun, and I had to enter the quire awkwardly and sit 
somewhat uncomfortably with my family through the service. 

The point being, I think, that St. Paul's is basically a national 
monument. And the established, institutional church there feels little need to 
exert itself to welcome the world and present the Gospel in a way that is 
accessible to those who are not already insiders and members of the club. 

I still benefited from participating in the worship service and took 
communion (for the first time ever on my knees) that morning. But I am 
already a believer and went to worship despite the inconvenience. 

The underlying assumption at St. Paul's seems to be that if the 
unchurched world wants the Gospel, it can come to the church and 
accommodate itself to the church's program. At the cathedral, there was no 
sense that I could detect of a need for the church to affirmatively reach out to 
the world. 

Within the same Church of England establishment, however, the 
atmosphere at All Souls Church in London couldn't have been more different. 

Taking the subway from St. Paul's, I arrived halfway through the 
morning's first worship service. Even at this early hour, 1 found only a handful 
of empty seats on the main floor. However, I was made to feel quite welcome. 
I was greeted multiple times by strangers, invited to have coffee after worship 
and was immediately made to feel that I was important to the crowded 
congregation and that my coming to visit was a significant event. 

By contrast, no one greeted me in the tiny group at St. Paul's except 
the clergy and the man handing out prayer books, and he seemed to view his 
function at least partially as a gatekeeper, to keep casual tourists away from the 
quire during worship. 

The congregational greeting I received at All Souls was very 
intentional. It was very clear that people of a variety of ages, of a variety of 
races, and of a variety of social and occupational classes had been chosen and 
asked to try to connect with every newcomer. The congregation was interracial, 
interethnic and international, reflecting very well the demographic makeup of 
the surrounding Westminster area. I sat next to an elderly Chinese man, who 
made sure I could follow the Scripture lesson in his Bible. 

The second, later morning worship service was absolutely packed, 
with no open seats either on the floor or in the balcony. There was, however, 
an overflow room with closed circuit television in the basement. And when 
Stott himself preached in the evening, the situation was the same. 



54 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

So it is possible even for congregations of established churches to 
effectively reach out to the public in a cosmopolitan, 2 P' century environment. 
But it means work, and it must be very intentional. It would appear to require 
a mindset similar to that at All Souls , where each member is urged to be a 
member of a small group and to be a part of some ministry of the church. All 
Souls very intentionally reaches out to the surrounding business community 
through noon-time programs and Bible studies and also tries to serve the 
university community. 

The outreach of the church has obviously been very carefully thought 
through, and a lot of attention is paid to the needs of newcomers. Few 
assumptions are made about what people know about Christianity. Even during 
the fairly simple, low-church worship service itself, there are frequent 
explanations of what is being done and why. There is also an explicit welcome 
of guests, who are invited from the pulpit to consider attending one of the 
church's classes that discuss the claims of Christianity. Visitor comfort is also 
well attended to. 

So, even within the established church, it is possible to successfully 
reach out and evangelize, but doing so requires giving up the comfortable 
establishment mindset that the world will come to the church and accommodate 
itself to it. 

I really appreciated the architectural magnificence that Anglican 
establishment and the vast resources of the church-state collaboration had made 
possible in the construction and maintenance of the Church of England 
cathedrals. I lamented the vandalism of those cathedrals during the 17"" century 
Puritan period, yet I also sympathized with the objections and aims of the 
Puritans. Though I certainly do not agree with the Puritans that the Mass is 
idolatry, much of the iconography and statuary that has accumulated in, upon 
and around the great cathedrals certainly seems to lean in that direction. At 
least this seems to have become so in some times and places in practice, if not 
actually so in theory and original intent. 

When our group visited St. Andrews, Scotland, June 16, 2000, the 
ocean-side ruin of St. Andrew's Cathedral, the largest in Scotland before the 
Reformation, was a memorable sight. I was struck by how the Reformation and 
its "cleansings" of the churches and its attendant battles, vandalism, and looting 
of church properties had cost Scotland its largest and grandest church structure. 
Nevertheless, Scotland emerged with a freer and in many respects purer church, 
with a vigorous and fairly democratic faith, even if still established through 
coercive state power. Though the loss of the grand building was tragic, what 
was gained was of inestimably greater value. The Reformation in Scotland 
constructed the durable, democratic ecclesiastical framework that has allowed 
non-established churches organized on the Scots pattern to grow and thrive in 



55 



Church History Experienced: A Tour of United Kingdom and Ireland 

North America and other parts of the world. 

So I and all Americans owe a profound debt to John Knox and the 
Scots reformers, even if disapproving of many of their methods and excesses. 
Knox might indeed be called one of the American founding fathers, along with 
England's later Puritan Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell,' so great was their 
ideological influence on the American experiment. 

St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, where Knox preached, was one of 
the high points of the trip, especially my meeting an elderly Scots Presbyterian 
elder there who was full of faith and full of the significance of the place, which 
he explained to me at great and gracious length. For instance, he told me that 
in the Presbyterian view, the spare and fairly plain house of worship is not a 
cathedral at all. Instead, St. Giles' is simply the High Kirk of Scotland. 

In England, the established church has, unfortunately, identified itself 
profoundly with the English political, military and imperial establishment. So 
the English cathedrals now seem to be almost more monuments to the glory of 
a faded monarchy and former empire than monuments to the glory of the 
unfailing Lord of Lords and his everlasting Kingdom. Almost all the Anglican 
cathedrals contained prominent military and political monuments. This seemed 
to me to be much more pronounced in England than in the cathedrals on the 
continent, where the church is largely disestablished or established in a much 
milder form. (My memory of one or two German cathedrals is that most of 
these types of relatively modem martial monuments have been removed, and 
for good reason.) Several of the English cathedrals we visited contained very 
prominent regimental chapels and prominently displayed faded British battle 
flags. At best, it was a mixed message. 

The absolutely worst and most jarring example of this downside of 
Anglican establishment was in Ireland, where the Anglican church now has 
been disestablished for decades. Unfortunately for the Church of Ireland, its 
establishment mentality does not seem to have been dislodged, at least not if 
one looks at the monuments in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. (In defense 
of St. Patrick's, it must be pointed out that the pastoral staff there was quite 
welcoming and accessible during our visit and expressly invited my wife and 
others to attend Evensong, after which the president of Ireland would speak. 

The Anglican Church of Ireland controls both of the great medieval 
cathedrals of Dublin, the capital of Ireland. The Catholic Church, to which the 
overwhelming majority of the people of the Republic of Ireland belong, has 



"Oliver Cromwell is one of the most neglected figures in American history." Robert 
S. Paul, The Lord Protector: Religion and Politics in the Life of Oliver Cromwell (Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) 7a. 

56 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

none. 

In St. Patrick's Cathedral, the oppressive burden of Irish history and 
of English overlordship was at its heaviest. The entire left transept, just off the 
crossing at the center of the cathedral, was filled with rotting British battle 
flags, most of which were some version of the Union Jack. Their presence, 
there in the very center of the cathedral, visually assaulted every worshipper. 
(By contrast, some of the English cathedrals I visited that had such battle flags 
displayed generally had them in less profusion and in less prominent positions. 
Bronze military plaques, however, were ubiquitous.) 

In the quire at St. Patrick's, each of the stalls was topped with a sword 
and a tasseled helmet of the Knights of St. Patrick, a now defunct British order 
of chivalry, created by the British monarchy in the 19"" century to reward 
Irishmen who promoted British imperial interests. This was also very bad 
symbolism for today's Ireland. 

On the walls, large bronze imperial war monuments were everywhere. 
The combined effect of all this was to suggest that this building was not 
singularly dedicated to the glory of God, but to the glory of the Anglican 
ascendant class and Britain's imperial adventures. 

Especially jarring for me, as I sat almost under the cathedral crossing 
during Evensong, was the arrangement of the Good Samaritan stained glass 
window opposite me on the right wall of the nave. It was a magnificent 
window, effectively telling the story of reaching out to mercifully serve an 
enemy against whom one has real grievances. But the effect was largely 
cancelled out by the equally prominent bronze regimental plaque beneath. It 
extolled the heroic deeds of the Irish Hussars during Britain's nakedly 
imperialistic Boer War, a war of aggression mercilessly waged against a 
neighbor with whom the British had no real grievance. The real issue was the 
diamonds that had regrettably been discovered in the neighbor's back yard and 
not in their own. 

The Church of Ireland has had nearly a century to find the right 
moment and method to get rid of those monstrous, moldering monuments 
(maybe packing them all off to the basement or bequeathing them to some 
museum somewhere "for proper care"), but it has failed to do so. (When I 
commented to our Irish bus driver about the cathedral's inertia against cleaning 
up in the eight decades since Irish independence, he commented sourly that the 
anglophile monuments likely would still be there 1,000 years from now.) 

The general effect was to symbolically proclaim that thoughtful Irish 
patriots need not apply (even if actually seeking an alternative to the Catholic 
Church) and that the Church of Ireland does not wish to play any significant 
role in the life of modem Ireland. Or at least it does not wish to play any role 
among Irish people who do not identify with the now deposed ascendant class. 



57 



Church History Experienced: A Tour of United Kingdom and Ireland 

How tragic. 

How tragic for Ireland, and for the Church of Ireland, which really 
could by now be playing a significant prophetic, redemptive and constructive 
role. 

This example is the extreme downside of establishment, and of 
establishment habits even after being disestablished. When the church makes 
its bed with the state, sometimes it must continue to lie in it, accepting not only 
the advantages of the arrangement but also the disadvantages, long after the 
liaison has been terminated. 

Social Issues 

When the president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, appeared at St. 
Patrick's Cathedral, Sunday, June II, 2000, for her Millennium speech, she 
revealed how irrelevant the now disestablished Church of Ireland has allowed 
itself to become. Properly functioning, one would expect the church to be 
effectively proclaiming the Good News of Jesus to the larger society. Even if 
it had to share the limelight with the Catholic Church and other confessions, it 
could still function prophetically and incamationally as at least part of the 
conscience of the nation. One would also expect that by intentionally living 
and symbolizing the Good News, the church of Jesus could and would give 
hope and vision to the larger society and the state. It would demonstrate in 
practical, human terms that there is a way out — a salvation, if you will, 
through Jesus Christ - for both people and societies trapped in intractable 
human problems. 

Instead, this cathedral's sclerotic and unashamedly imperialistic self- 
identification apparently presented such a political problem to President 
McAleese that she dared not enter until the last "Amen" of the Evensong 
service had been spoken. 

Then it fell to the head of state, in a startling role reversal, to call upon 
the church to wake itself up and actually preach and actually be the Gospel. 
She challenged the church "to preach the Good News of the Spirit . . . and be 
known by the way we love one another. . . . We have been prisoners of [our] 
history ... an arsenal which we ransack for weapons to confirm our sense of 
victimhood and to identify the enemy."^ 

She also called upon Ireland "to remember the past differently, more 
generously. 

"The past, when used well . . . can be used to make us kinder . . . We 



2 

Gene McKenna and Niamh Hooper, "President hits out at our culture of sleaze," Irish 
Independent (June 12, 2000) 1. 

58 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

know what it is to be alienated, to be undervalued" and can be champions of the 
poor abroad. 

Nevertheless, the Church of Ireland seems especially to be a 
prisoner of its history, especially of its former establishment. And all the 
churches of Ireland ~ Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian ~ at crucial 
historical junctures have failed to preach the Gospel of Jesus to love 
neighbor as ourselves. All the churches of Ireland at crucial historical 
junctures have failed to live the Gospel of Jesus and incarnate his Good 
News to the larger society. Cromwell's bloody devastation of Ireland - 
especially the inexcusable massacres at Drogheda and Wexford — in the 
name of the Protestant, Puritan Commonwealth is a spectacular historical 
example of this, as are today's anti-Catholic rantings of the Presbyterian 
extremists of Northern Ireland. (None of this, of course, is meant to 
exonerate any other guilty party in the troubles in Ireland.) 

Moving my reflections outside of Ireland and outside of the 
established church and some of its failures, I must also confess being inspired, 
frankly moved to tears, standing at John Wesley's tomb in London. I was 
listening to the account of Wesley's deathbed charge to William Wilberforce 
to continue the very difficult agitation against the powerful and entrenched 
forces in England that profited from slavery and the slave trade. This was a 
clear and inspiring example of the unestablished church doing exactly what it 
must to live the Gospel. This was after the established Anglican church had 
thrown away its opportunity a century earlier to fairly easily condemn and 
therefore probably end North American slavery. 

Tolerance 

As I contemplated Ireland's troubles, I found my thinking 
becoming increasingly intolerant and even cynical. I was feeling the internal 
tug to retreat into black-and-white, reductive, dismissive thinking, rather 
than grapple, in a godly and humane way, with complex realities that resist 
such simplistic thinking. 

It is, of course, easy to arrogantly take shots at specks in the eye of 
other cultures, other churches and other people and ignore the planks in ones 
own. I acknowledge this, even while I acknowledge that to some degree I 
still do it. 

Some of this, I realize, is rooted in cynical, cultic intellectual habits 
that die hard for me. President McAleese recognized the danger of this kind 
of thinking as well. "Cynicism builds nothing up. ... It drains energy and 
leaches acid into hope." 



59 



Church History Experienced: A Tour of United Kingdom and Ireland 

^ I recognized that some of the failures of the historic church were based upon 
exactly the same cynicism that I sometimes see in myself. Rather than stay 
committed to the ethical, theological and intellectual heavy lifting of an 
authentically lived Christianity, historic figures such as Oliver Cromwell and 
John Knox reached instead for black-and-white slogans, for the doable, for the 
winnable, even where they contradicted the ethics, theology and logic of 
Christianity. Sometimes, I too feel the tug in myself to reach for the easy, the 
simple, the winnable, 

President McAleese, who went out of her way to quote Presbyterians 
and Methodists, called upon all of Ireland's believers to live authentic lives of 
faith. 

Another of the unexpected benefits of the trip was seeing myself 
interacting with the other people on the trip, many of whom were fascinating 
and inspiring people, and seeing myself respond to the inevitable interpersonal 
stresses that occur on any group venture. There were some very interesting 
interactions involving me and others. Some were successes, some were failures 
of sorts, but mostly they were just interesting and somewhat unexpected human 
interactions. So I was prompted to reflect on effectiveness of my efforts and 
others' to authentically live the Gospel each day. There were more than a few 
notes to myself in my journal to mind the gap between my intentions and my 
actual performance in my daily human interactions. 

So the lessons were both personal and historical - but mostly they kept 
working back to personal, even when looking at very significant historical 
events where the church and its leaders had failed to live and proclaim the 
Gospel effectively. 

Yet just as I recoiled from the failures of others, I kept seeing many 
of the same qualities in myself that led to those failures in others. This wasn't 
supposed to happen. The trip was supposed to be much more sterile and clean. 
I was supposed to be able to keep the lessons at a distance, in other people's 
lives, in another culture and certainly in the domain of the cognitive, not the 
domain of the emotional or the relational. 

Then again, maybe it was supposed to happen this way. Maybe some 
of the lessons were supposed to be rather up close and personal. The largest 
lessons of the trip are introspective. They have to do with watching myself and 
others grapple with the Gospel imperatives to respond in a Christ-like way to 
the concrete challenges of life as we actually live it every day. There is, after 
all, no other way to live life. It must be lived historically, in a concrete time, 
place, culture and situation. Every day. 



Ibid. 

60 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

The cultural and historic distance experienced on the trip was both an 
asset and a liability. In looking at another culture or at another time, distance 
often allows an outsider to see much more clearly than an insider what the gross 
problems are and the large picture of what is going on. Nevertheless, the same 
distance also often prevents outsiders from understanding the details: the subtle 
problems, nuances and complications that make the problems so difficult in the 
actual history lived by the insider. The experience of cultural and historical 
distance also prompted me to further introspection. What are the larger lessons 
here? How does this situation compare to mine? What is the application for 
me? How am I doing with the sorts of issues that troubled another culture and 
another time? What could I be doing differently and be doing better? 

In the end, most of this seemed to boil down to President McAleese's 
challenge to the Church of Ireland, and, indeed, to all believers: Authentically 
proclaim the Good News and authentically live the Good News of Jesus so as 
to give redeeming hope and vision to our troubled world. 

May it be so. Even in the church. Even in my life. 



61 



ETS Studies 



The ETS Studies series, a joint venture between Baker 
Book House and the Evangelical Theological Society, pub- 
lishes monographs in the areas of biblical studies and the- 
ology that are judged to make a significant contribution 
to evangelical scholarship. The general editor of the series 
is Dr. David W. Baker of Ashland Theological Seminary. 



m 

SKlOlfS 




The Gods of the Nations 

Studies in Ancient Near Eastern 

National Ttieology, 

2ded. 

Daniel I. Block 

Foreword by Alan R. Millard 

"A wfelcome addition for anyone in- 
terested in the Old Testament and 
comparative ancient Near Eastern 
materials." 

—Bill T.Arnold, 
Asbury Theological Seminary 

" [Block] is to be commended for the 
writing of this fine monograph." 

— R. P. Gordon, 
The Evangelical Quarterly 

0-8010-2201-0 $16.99p 176 pages 



Also in the Series 



Listening to the Text 

Oral Patterning in Paul's Letters 

John D. Harvey 

Foreword by Richard N. Longenecker 

"An essential resource for anyone working in 
epistolary, rhetorical, or Pauline studies." 

— Duane F. Watson, Religions Studies Review 

0-8010-2200-2 $24.99p 384 pages 



m im 



Baker Academic 



Subscribe to Baker Academic's electronic newsletter (E-notes) 
at www.bakerbooks.com/academic 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Transformational Leadership: 
Theory and Reflections 

Richard Parrott* 

"Be transformed by the renewing of your minds. . . " 

(Romans 12:2) 

Consider excerpts of four conversations: 
Your organization is guided by vision and values. I know 
there are times you make hard decisions. I also know you 
surprise people by making the tough decisions in the right 
way. This is what I want to know: How do you recognize 
a decision of organizational values rather than 
organizational profit? And, what do you have to do 
internally to make the decision, especially when it is 
costly? (Author to Executive Vice-President of State Farm 
Insurance) \ 

And we couldn't agree on the subject of my presentation. 
But then, it came to me as a revelation; the content doesn't 
matter. These people just need to connect. They don't 
need more information, they need to want more from what 
they are doing. (Executive Director of the Program on 
Non-Profit Organizations to the author) 

You have to love the process. It is not the paper, but the 
process that matters. Most of what you learn never goes in 
the paper, but the process changes the way you think; it 
gives foundation to ministry. (Faculty members of ATS 
discussing the doctoral dissertation with the author) 

Our love for Jesus must be greater than our love of money 
or fame or anything else. (Author's pastor in a recent 
sermon) 

*Richard Parrott (M.Div., Nazarene Theological Seminary; Ph.D., Oregon 
State University) is Executive Director of The Sandberg Leadership Center 
at ATS and also Director of the D.Min. program. 



63 



Transformational Leadership: Theory and Reflections 

Each statement is an expression of the "new leadership paradigm" 
(Bryman 1992). Transformational leadership is concerned with vision, 
values, ethics, and relationships. It is a process of leadership in which the 
motives, needs, and humanity of followers is given full consideration. At 
the heart of the process is the visionary leader. 

Transformational leadership is making an impact on the church. In 
August, 1999, Noel Tichy, theorist and teacher of transformational 
leadership (Tichy and DeVanna 1990; Tichy 1997), spoke to the Willow 
Creek gathering of church leaders, the largest annual conference on 
Leadership in the evangelical world. Ten years earlier, Lyle Schaller 
introduced the term to church leadership, "The transformational leader is 
driven by a vision for a new tomorrow, wins supporters and followers for 
that vision, and transforms the congregation" (Anderson 1990, 188). Of 
particular interest to the community of Ashland Theological Seminary is the 
incorporation of the term in the mission statement of the new Sandberg 
Leadership Center, "We are a center of transformational learning, committed 
to the spiritual and character formation of servant leaders who will make a 
difference in business, government, the church and society" (Finks and 
Parrott 2000). 

The purpose of this paper is to present the theory of 
transformational leadership as found in the social sciences and to offer 
reflections on the practice, biblical foundations, and personal implications of 
the theory. ■ 

L Theory •. 

First coined by Downton (1973), the significance of 
transformational leadership emerged in the classic work of the political 
sociologist, James McGregor Bums (1978). Bums distinguishes two types 
of leaders: transactional and transformational. Transformational leaders 
initiate and maintain a relational process that raises the level of motivation 
and morality in both the leader and the follower. Mahatma Gandhi is the 
classic example. Transformational leadership is rooted in shared vision and 
concern for the needs of followers. 

Transformational leadership is closely linked to the theory of 
charismatic leadership (House 1976)'. Such leaders demonstrate five 



' The classic definition of the charismatic leader is a special personality 
characteristic that gives a person superhuman or exceptional powers and is 
reserved for a few, is of divine origin, and results in the person being treated as 

64 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

characteristics: 1) modeling of beliefs and values, 2) appearing competent 
to followers, 3) stating goals ideologically and with moral overtones, 4) 
having high expectations for and confidence in followers, and 5) motivating 
followers through affiliation, power, and esteem. House admits that 
charismatic leadership tends to emerge in times of distress. 

A refined version of transformational leadership theory was set 
down by Bernard Bass (1985). Extending the work of Bums and House, 
Bass describes transactional and transformational leadership as a single 
continuum (Yammarino 1993). Transformational leaders move people to go 
beyond expectations. Tliey help people transcend self-interest for the sake 
of the greater good. They address the higher-level needs of followers (Bass 
1985). 

In his recent book, Avolio (1999) elaborates on the dynamics of the 
"model of transformational and transactional leadership" (Bass 1985, 1990; 
Bass and Avolio 1993, 1994). Transformational leadership is characterized 
by four factors. Transactional leadership is characterized by two factors. 

Transformational Leadership 

Transformational leaders are concerned with two issues: the 
performance of followers and the development of followers (Avolio 1999; 
Bass and Avolio 1990a). These leaders lift followers beyond self-interest 
with strong internal values and ideals (Kuhnert 1994). Four factors (known 
as the Four "I's") emerge: 

First, idealized influence. This is charisma. Leaders are strong role 
models that people want to emulate. They have high standards and can be 
counted on to do the right thing. They have deep respect for people and 
place deep trust in them. They provide vision and mission. Followers say of 
these leaders: I feel good when I am around them; I have complete faith in 
them; I am proud to be associated with them.^ 



a leader (Weber 1947). This emphasis on personality must be brought into 
balance by recognizing the important role played by followers who validate 
charisma (Bryman 1992; House 1976). For the most recent revisions of the 
theory see Conger and Kanungo, 1998. 

^ The expressions of followers found in the discussion of each factor are 
adapted from the leadership instrument MLQ, copyright 1992 by B. M. Bass 
and B. J. Avolio. For rehability and validity see Bass and Avolio, 1993. 
Copies of the MLQ can be obtained from Mind Garden, Inc., 1690 Woodside 
Rd., Suite 202, Redwood City, CA 94061. 650-261-3500. There is an 

65 



Transformational Leadership: Theory and Reflections 

Second, inspirational motivation. Leaders cultivate commitment to 
a shared vision. Using symbols and emotions, they focus the efforts of the 
group with high expectations and team spirit. Followers say of these 
leaders: they say in a few simple words what we can and should do; they 
provide appealing images of what we can do; they help us find meaning in 
our work. 

Third, intellectual stimulation. Leaders stimulate others to be 
creative and innovative. They challenge beliefs and values, and they 
encourage followers to challenge the leader and the organization. Such 
leaders support creative problem solving and new approaches. Followers 
say of these leaders: they help me think about old problems in new ways; 
they give me new ways to look at puzzling things; they help me rethink ideas 
I never questioned before. 

Fourth, individualized consideration. Leaders support individuals 
by carefully listening, acting as coach and advisor, seeking to assist 
individuals to become more actualized. They help followers grow through 
personal challenges. At times the leader may be directive with a high degree 
of structure, while at other times s/he may deepen the relationship with the 
follower. Followers say of these leaders: they help me develop; they let me 
know how they think I am doing; they give me personal attention when I 
feel rejected. 

Transactional Leadership 

The transactional leader does not consider the needs of each 
individual. Transactional leaders do not focus on personal development. 
Transactional leaders exchange things of value so that work may be done 
and goals accomplished (Kuhnert 1994). It is in the follower's best self- 
interest to do what the transactional leader wants done (Kuhnert and Lewis 
1987). Two factors emerge: 

First, contingent reward. The key competency for the transactional 
leader is to negotiate fair outcomes. The leader obtains an agreement on 
what needs to be done and what the payoff will be. The effort of followers 
is exchanged for specific rewards. Followers say of these leaders: they let 
me know what I have to do and what reward I will get; they provide me with 
recognition and rewards when I reach my goals; they show me what others 
receive when they reach their goals. 



abbreviated version of the MLQ called the MLQ-6S. 

66 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Second, management-by-exception. The second tool for 
transactional leaders is corrective criticism. It is negative feedback coupled 
with negative reinforcement. There are two strategies: a) monitor employee 
patterns, watch for mistakes and violations, then take corrective action; or b) 
monitor work outcomes, watch for sub-standard work and problems, then 
take corrective action. Followers say of such leaders: they are satisfied 
when I meet the agreed upon standard; they don't interfere as long as things 
are working; they tell me what is expected in my work. 

An analysis of thirty-nine studies in transformational leadership 
found that individuals who exhibit transformation behaviors (the Four "I's") 
were perceived as more effective and had better work outcomes than leaders 
who exhibit only transactional behavior (Lowe, Kroeck, and 
Sivasubramaniam 1996). 

Two other research groups began investigating transformational 
leadership using open-ended questions and content analysis. Bennis and 
Nanus (1985) interviewed 90 leaders and report four common strategies: 
articulating a shared vision, being a social architect, creating trust, and 
creatively fusing a sense of self with the work. In a similar research model, 
Tichy and DeVanna (1986, 1990) interviewed 12 CEO's on how they 
carried out the change process. The common pattern was a "Three Act" 
process of: Act 1) recognizing the need for change; Act 2) creating a shared 
vision for change; and, Act 3) institutionalizing change. 

II. Reflections 

As I move from theory into reflection, my paper will move from 
objective to subjective, from formal to informal (from transactional to more 
transformational). What I want to share is out of my own heart and mind. 
These are issues that matter to me in my attempt to be a transformational 
leader at The Sandberg Leadership Center. These are my struggles and 
convictions, expressing my values and uncertainties. Like you, I am much 
more comfortable telling you what I know rather than opening up who I am. 
Yet, transformational leadership begins with appropriate transparency. 

I am going to reflect in three ways: on practice, on biblical 
foundations, and on personal implications. My thoughts are not complete. 
They will change in the months and years before me. But, for now, these are 
points of conversation with the challenges I face in learning to be a 
transformational leader. 

The words that follow are "Richard's Reflections." They start that 
way. However, it is my hope that these thoughts will cause you to reflect, 
question, converse, challenge, and commit. It is when these written 



67 



Transformational Leadership: Theory and Reflections 

reflections fade and your own reflections come into focus that I fulfill my 
hope of being some small part of the transformational process in your life. 

On the practice of transformational leadership. 

Transformational leadership is a balancing act. For example, I must 
focus on shared vision with a group and also on individual development. I 
must focus on the greater good of the organization while also concerning 
myself with each individual's needs. I must focus on clear values that act as 
non-negotiables while engendering genuine respect for opposing views. I 
must focus on motivating beyond the realm of self-interest yet attend to the 
personal fulfillment of each person who works in the organization. I find the 
practice of transformational leadership fraught with temptation. 

First, it is tempting to cloak transactional behavior under 
transformational language. Many churches have a vision statement. Let me 
ask, does your church have a shared vision? Many churches have leadership 
training classes. Do you evaluate the personal development that results in 
people who give the time to go through the program? Many churches have 
ministry teams. For teams to be empowering, teams must have power to 
make real decisions. Do they? 

I must speak a strong word with leaders who seek to be 
transformational: integrity. You can use many transactional programs half- 
heartedly in the church, and people will accept it; the latest evangelism 
program, the next giving campaign, the most recent training package. If you 
falter on any of these, people grumble a bit and the church goes on. 
However, transformational language is different. It is personal. It is full of 
promise. It is demanding of sacrifice. If you or I falter here, the results are 
personal. If you say "shared vision... respect opposing views... team 
ministry... deep trust in people," you must back it up with behavior. Fail 
here, and people will not think you incompetent but immoral. Fail here, and 
people will resist commitment the next time. 

Second, // is tempting to forget the importance of good 
transactional leadership. A good transactional leader negotiates fair 
rewards. Imagine an organization where the rewards are unfair. A good 
transactional leader makes tasks and roles clear. Imagine an organization 
where you don't know what's expected of you or what authority you have. 
A good transactional leader provides appropriate recognition. Imagine an 
organization where you are never recognized for goals achieved. A good 
transactional leader corrects what is wrong. Imagine an organization where 
problems are never addressed and negative behavior is ignored. 



68 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

I believe many organizations need to address quality transactional 
leadership as they become transformational. I would go so far as to state 
that transformational leadership is supported by good transactional practices. 
When the distribution of bread was unfair (transactional practices), the 
transforming power of the church ground to a halt (Acts 6:1). When 
transactional practices were in place, transformation emerged (Acts 6:7). 

I have always been naturally inspirational, but I have not always 
been transformational. My incompetence came at the point of not knowing 
how to provide the structure and support for change. There is a level of 
rewards, recognition, roles, standards, and fairness that acts like a 
foundation. As I remember, God in grace sent the right people who quietly 
provided the needed pilings and framework. I am finding that it is good to 
reach for the stars as long as the organization is well grounded. 

Third, it is tempting to serve the wrong master. Organizations with 
clear and positive transactional practices often find it difficult to move into a 
transformational realm. This is indicative of the famous seven last words of 
the church, "We-never-did-it-that-way-before." The question I ask 
constantly is this: do transactional practices support or stifle transformational 
processes? Let me ask you the question in several ways: does your decision 
making process develop wisdom or despair in individuals? Does your 
problem solving invite or reject opposing ideas? Does your recognition 
procedure reward or punish "beyond the call of duty" behavior? 

You may be leading an organization strapped by a transactional 
mindset. Remember, the only time a person willingly gets out of a 
comfortable chair is when it becomes a hot seat. Transformational leaders 
are change agents. This means initiating instability, fostering opposing 
views, and implementing new directions. Not everybody likes this. And 
when you do it, they won't like you either. Learn to ask yourself (and then 
others): what is happening now (the facts)? Why is it happening (the 
motives)? What will happen if you continue this way (the predictions)? 
What are you willing to do to make a difference (the commitment)? 
(Markham 1999). Put yourself in the hot seat before you put someone else 
there. 

On the biblical foundations of transformational leadership 

My first observation concerning the biblical foundations of 
transformational leadership is that I am not trained to make such 
declarations. I have a Master of Divinity degree of some years ago and 
twenty-plus years of pastoral ministry. This is a far cry from advanced 
degrees in hermeneutics, historical theology, original languages, and all the 



69 



Transformational Leadership: Theory and Reflections 

skills associated with the kind of person who would dare comment on "the 
biblical foundations" of anything. 

Academically, I am not qualified. As the leader of a Christian 
organization, however, I am required to deal with transformation and 
Scripture. The transformational model is secular in origin. It uses many 
terms that have spiritual and Christian overtones. I would not declare the 
model as anti-Christian or un-Christian, but its foundations are non- 
Christian. This word of caution is echoed in the synoptic Gospels. The 
word "transformed" (metamorphoo) "is used four times (Matt. 17:2; Mk. 
9:2; Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18) and is apparently deliberately avoided once. 
This omission is in the Lucan account of the transfiguration of Jesus, 
possibly because Luke did not want to use a term which could invite 
comparison with the pagan ideas of transformation" (Liefeld, 861-862). 

As a place to begin this search for foundations, consider a familiar 
verse: "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these 
things will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:31). This is, at once, a word of 
great transformation or the lowliest of transactions. To the transformed 
heart, it is a verse of inspiration, it declares the grand will of God, it calls to 
higher needs and loftier motives, it empowers the believer to risk all and rest 
in the care of the Father. Yet, to the heart locked in transaction, the verse 
cuts a bargain with the Almighty: "God, I will seek Your Kingdom, but You 
have to give me the stuff." 

Like most children growing up in the faith, I considered the way of 
Christ to be a way of transactions. The language was transactional with talk 
of rewards and punishments, crowns and cruelty. The common illustrations 
were variations on the courtroom transactions. The worst image, to my 
recollection, was God so angry he beat up on a nice person like Jesus so that 
he didn't have to beat up on me. We were asked to "put faith" in this angry 
God who "really loves you." Such faith turns life into a hard path of 
keeping on God's good side or at least keeping off his radar screen. We 
learned that, like a grand transactional manager, "the Father up above is 
looking down..." with rewards and punishments for little boys and girls. 

This is a child's twisted understanding of Christianity. However, 
deep-seated memories, homiletic reinforcement, and theological immaturity 
continue to feed this childish and pagan form of Christian faith. Appeasing 
an angry god is paganism. It is transactional religion: "If I do this, God 
won't get angry; and if I do that, God owes me a blessing." This is not the 
Christianity of the early church. William Neal cuts to the heart of 
transactional faith: 

It is worth noting that the "fire and brimstone" school of theology 
who revel in ideas such as that Christ was made a sacrifice to appease an 



70 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

angry God, or that the cross was a legal transaction in which an innocent 
victim was made to pay the penalty for the crimes of others, a propitiation of 
a stern God, find no support in Paul. These notions came into Christian 
theology by way of legalistic minds of the medieval churchmen; they are not 
biblical Christianity (Neal 1965, 89-90). 

The cross is not God inflicting wounds on another, but God 
receiving the suffering himself. Isaiah saw that the "servant" would suffer at 
the hands of God; but, who would have believed that the "servant" would be 
God. All of God was in Christ. "God was pleased to have all his fullness 
dwell within him" (Col. 1:19) and "in Christ the fullness of the Deity lives in 
bodily form" (Col. 2:9). The incarnate God was on the cross. It was there 
that "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's 
sins against them" (2 Cor. 5:19). This is not mere exchange but real change. 
It is not a simple transaction in the best interest of both parties: this is 
transformation. This is based in higher needs, loftier motives, a new 
relationship, a transforming vision and Kingdom values. 

Atonement cannot be left as a simple transaction. It must be 
transformational. It results in the transformation of the sinner (2 Cor. 5:17). 
But, the grand beginning of transformation was when "the Word became 
flesh" (John 1:14). It has been suggested that the incarnation that began in 
the womb of Mary was completed on the cross of Calvary (conversation 
with Dr. Dan Hawk of ATS). When incarnation and atonement are wedded 
as two parts of the same event, the transaction of the cross is a 
transformation of the soul. What we see in the cross is not an angry deity 
transacting his vengeance on the innocent, but the loving and grace of God 
transforming his ways with us. In this sense, God changed. 

John Stott writes, "If it may be said that the propitiation 'changed' 
God, or that by it he changed himself, let us be clear he did not change from 
wrath to love, or from enmity to grace, since his character is unchanging. 
What the propitiation changed was his dealings with us" (Stott 1986, 174). 
Stott agrees with P. T. Forsyth, "The distinction I ask you to make is 
between a change of feeling and a change of treatment... God's feeling 
toward us never needed to be changed. But God's treatment of us, God's 
practical relation to us - that had to change" (Forsyth 1910, 105). 

I believe this ne'er-do-well theologian is far enough out on the limb 
to open a conversation on the theological implications of transformational 
leadership. From this perch, let me state my point: you cannot be a 
transformational leader if you are caught in a transactional form of 
Christianity. Your theology precedes your practice. And, your experience 
precedes your theology. The admonition of Paul is clear (he was not afraid 



71 



Transformational Leadership: Theory and Reflections 

of the pagan origins of the word), "Be transformed (metamorphoo) by the 
renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). 

I want to stress the point because I believe there is danger lurking in 
the transformational model of leadership. It can be practiced as the 
emergence of an individual hero rather than the implementation of a 
relational process. It has been criticized as elitist and anti-democratic, as if 
the leader acts alone and apart from the group (Avolio 1999). It has the 
potential for abuse. It is concerned with changing people, changing values, 
and moving into new vision. Who determines if the new direction is good 
and affirming? Who decides if the new vision is a better one? The nature of 
transformational leadership opens itself to destructive purposes (Howell and 
Avolio 1992). 

The transformational leader needs a foundation of biblical 
reflection and spiritual formation. The transactions of the church may not 
require struggling with profound theological issues. This could be debated, 
but I am convicted with this truth: the transformational leader needs lifelong 
practices of biblical reflection and spiritual formation. They are needed to 
protect the church and to guard the soul of the leader. 

As a relational process, both the leader and the organization face 
the potential dangers of the transformational realm. Biblical reflection and 
spiritual formation protect the leader from the temptation to become the 
hero, from taking authority that belongs only in Heaven, from moving along 
the path of self-despair and self-destruction. Biblical reflection and spiritual 
formation protect the church by moving her from the temptation to trust in 
human leadership to deep faith in the true Head, from thoughtless emulation 
of a leader to a thoughtful search of Scripture, from blind commitment to an 
institutional vision to whole-hearted devotion to God. 

With thoughts of such danger abounding, it is understandable why 
many leaders and organizations retreat to a simple level of transactions: a 
system of rewards and punishments that serves the self-interest of both the 
leader and the followers. It is comfortable. But there is a third party left out 
of the equation, "the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:31). 
Transformational leadership is fraught with danger, but if you retreat to a 
transactional church, you face certain spiritual death. Living at the level of 
transaction only is like living under a veil. Vision is blurred and glory is 
faded. The wonder of the Gospel is found in the changing presence of 
God's gracious love. The transforming power of God removes the veil, and 
we "are being transformed (metamorphoo) into his likeness with ever 
increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Cor. 
3:18). Transformational leadership is the high road of adventure; it is life 



72 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

with full vision; it is partnership with the One who was transformed (Matt. 
17:2) and who now transforms us. 

On the personal implications of transformational leadership. 

This is my first publication in the Ashland Journal. Reflecting on 
my feelings, I am both fearful (Did I meet the standards of my peers?) and 
excited (Can I go beyond what is expected?). I asked a colleague to review 
the material. He read the work and read my face. "You have met the bar," 
he said. Ah, the standard has been reached. Then he went on, "And, I think 
you have something important to say." 

He invested the next moments sharpening my thinking, clarifying 
my logic, and challenging my heart. He then invited me to join him in a 
conversation concerning his own research. He convinced me I had 
something to offer. I wanted to do and be my best. That was a small 
transformational moment. He lifted me from "Is it good enough?" to "You 
can make a difference." 

From this little incident, notice two emotions: fear and excitement. 
This is the way I approach new situations. It is the way most people 
approach change. Fear is the rational mind's concern with transactional 
issues. Excitement is the soul's hope for transformation. For example, 
when the new pastor arrives, the church is filled with fear and excitement. 
"I am nervous about the pastor changing things" and at the same time, "I 
sure hope the pastor helps us change for the better." New students on the 
seminary campus are filled with fear and excitement. They fear 
transactional issues involving grades, degree requirements, and payment 
schedules. However, they also carry the hope of a transforming experience 
that will open mind and heart to the presence of God and meaningful 
ministry in the Kingdom. "I'm concerned I will not be good enough" and 
"This will be the best experience ever." 

When I face a new assignment, a speaking opportunity, making a 
new friend, expanding the network of contacts, or leading The Sandberg 
Leadership Center, I face the marble effect of fear and excitement. There is 
concern over transactions - the standards, the expectations, the 
requirements, the passing grade, actions in my best interest. There is also 
hope in the possibility of transformation - new values, glorious vision, 
higher ideals, lofty motives, grand possibilities for the greater good. 

My own experience goes like this: when the fear is great, the 
excitement of transformation fades. When the new pastor "changes too 
many things" (too many patterns of transactions), the hope of "becoming a 
better church" (transformational vision) slips away in the rubble of gossip 



73 



Transformational Leadership: Theory and Reflections 

and criticism. If the new student is overwhelmed by fear of grades and 
requirements, the focus on being transformed blurs into a fearful and 
transactional struggle to make the grade. 

When fear is overcome, profound change takes hold. It is the 
church convinced that the new pastor is more interested in making them 
better rather than forcing them to be different. It is the new student who sets 
aside the fear of failure and embraces the possibility of experiencing God in 
a seminary classroom. People enter the transformational realm, not in the 
absence of fear, but by overcoming fear. The first and greatest task of 
leadership is to "be courageous" (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9, 18). I am happy to be 
creative. I can even be clever on occasion. But, to be courageous is costly. 

Transformational leadership requires courage. It is not the courage 
of risking life and limb like a soldier at Gettysburg or on the shores of 
Normandy. But it is risking the possibility of disapproval, rejection, 
misunderstanding, and being featured in the next round of gossip. It is 
occasionally risking your bread and belonging. Henry Ford II said, "If you 
are not willing to risk your job, you are probably not doing your job" 
(Robert Quinn, Executive Education, Seminar #U002013, March 27-31, 
2000, University of Michigan). There are times when transformational 
leadership demands that you put it all on the line. "Be strong and very 
courageous," said the Lord to Joshua, and to you (Joshua 1:7). 

I find courage in meaningful relationships such as the ones reported 
at the beginning of these personal reflections. I find courage in developing 
competency in my task. I find courage is based in a transformational 
relationship with my Lord. And, I find that courage is what I want to pass 
on to other leaders. 

Change is here, and change is hard. To lead in an era of 
transformation will call for practical knowledge. To implement 
transformation will require people skills. But, to make transformation last 
takes moral courage. You and I need a safe place to discover courage in 
times of need. This place is nestled between developing personal 
competence, growing in spiritual depth, and being nurtured in meaningful 
relationships. This is transformational to a leader. 

WORKS CITED 

Anderson, L. 1990. Dying for change. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House. 

Avolio, B. J. 1999. Full leadership development: Building the vital forces in 
organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 



74 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Bass, B. M. 1985. Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New 
York: Free Press. 

Bass, B. M. 1990. From transactional to transformational leadership: 
Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18, 19-31. 

Bass, B. M., and Avolio, B. J. 1990. The implications of transactional and 
transformational leadership for individual, team, and organizational 
development. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 
4, 231-272. 

Bass, B. M., and Avolio, B. J. 1992. Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire - 
Short form 6S. Binghamton, NY: Center for Leadership Studies. 

Bass B. M., and Avolio, B. J. 1993. Transformational leadership: A response 
to critiques. In Leadership theory and research: Perspectives and 
directions, ed. M. M. Chemers and R. Ayman, 49-80. San Diego, CA: 
Academic Press. 

Bass, B. M., and Avolio, B. J. 1994. Improving organizational effectiveness 
through transformational leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 

Bennis, W. G., and Nanus, B. 1985. Leaders: The strategies for taking 
charge. New York: Harper and Row. 

Bryman, A. 1992. Charisma and leadership in organizations. London: Sage. 

Bums, J. M. 1978. Leadership. New York: Harper and Row. 

Conger, J. A., and Kanungo, R. N. 1998. Charismatic leadership in 
organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 

Downton, J. V. 1973. Rebel leadership: Commitment and charisma in a 
revolutionary process. New York: Free Press. 

Finks, F., and Parrott, R. 2000. Mission statement. Internal vision document 
for The Sandberg Leadership Center. 

Forsythe, P. T. 1910. The work of Christ, n.p.: Hodder and Stoughton. 



75 



Transformational Leadership: Theory and Reflections 

House, R. J. 1976. A 1976 theory of charismatic leadership. In Leadership: 
The cutting edge, ed. J. G. Hunt and L. L. Larson, 189-207. 
Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. 

Kuhnert, K. W. 1994. Transactional and transformational leadership: A 
constructive/developmental analysis. Academy of Management Review, 
72(4), 648-657. 

Liefeld, W.L. 1978. Transfigure, Transfiguration, Transform. The New 
International Dictionary of New Testament Theology 3, ed. C. Brown. 
Grand Rapids/Exeter: Zondervan/Patemoster, 861-864. 

Lowe, K. B., Kroeck, K. G., and Sivasubramaniam, N. 1996. Effectiveness 
correlates of transformational and transactional leadership: A meta- 
analytic review of the MLQ literature. Leadership Quarterly, 7(3), 
385-425. 

Markham, Donna. 1999. Spiritlinking leadership: Working through 
resistance to organizational change. New York: Paulist Press. 

Neal, W. 1965. Apostle Extraordinary, n.p.: Religious Education Press. 

Stott, J. 1986. The cross of Christ. Downer's Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 

Tichy, N. M. 1997. The leadership engine. New York: Harper Business. 

Tichy, N. M., and DeVanna, M. A. 1986. The transformational leader. New 
York: John Wiley. , ,s .:> 

Tichy, N. M., and DeVanna, M. A. 1990. The transformational leader. 2d 
ed. New York: John Wiley. ,, ' 

Weber, M. 1947. The theory of social and economic organizations. 
Translated by T. Parsons. New York: Free Press. • v v 

Yammarino, P. J. 1993. Transforming leadership studies: Bernard Bass' 
leadership and performance beyond expectations. Leadership 
Quarterly, 40), 379-382. 



76 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Helpful Worldwide Web Sites 

David W. Baker 

There follows a categorized list of Web sites which some faculty 
members at ATS have found useful. All are to be preceded by the following: 
http:// The only Web site which we endorse is our own 

(www.ashland.edu/seminary/seminary.html), but we hope readers might find 
value among the others listed. Dr Russell Morton, Research Librarian at ATS, 
has compiled a very useful site with numerous helpful links at: 
www.ashland.edu/~rmorton2. An ongoing resource is the "Internet for 
Christians Newsletter" at: www.gospelcom.net/ifc/newsletter.shtml. By their 
very nature, Web sites are ephemeral, so some might not still be active by the 
time you try them. 

BIBLICAL STUDIES 

Additional sites will be listed in the future, but a useful gateway to numerous 
sites is found at The Society for Old Testament Study at 
www.trinity-bris.ac.uk/sots/resources.html 

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION 

Youth Ministry Resources 

A World of Ministry: www.webcom.com/nlnnet/xian/xianchul.html 
Christian Endeavor International: http://www.x-endeavor.org/home 
Christian World Online: chreuropeonline.hypermart.net/world 
Christian Youth News Online (now Stir Magazine): 

www.stirmagazine.com 
LeadershipU : http ://www .leaderu .com 
The Omnilist of Kids, Fun, and Humor: 

hometown .aol .com/clinksgold/omnent. htm 
Jobs in ministry: www.ministryjobs.com 
Susan's CCM Directory: 

www-personal.umich.edu/~mozzer/cmusic.html 
Teen Challenge: www.teenchallenge.com 
Youth Ministry Newsletter Exchange: www.cm-online.net/ym 
Youth Pastors: www.youthpastor.com 
Youth Specialties: www.gospelcom.net/ys 



77 



Helpful Worldwide Web Sites 

Focus on the Family Sites 

Focus.com: www.family.org/welcome/intl 

Pure Intimacy: www.pureintimacy.org Concerning sexual addiction. 
Breakaway Magazine: www.breakawaymag.com For teen guys. 
Brio Magazine: www.briomag.org For teen girls. 

CHURCH HISTORY PRIMARY DOCUMENTS 

(Edited from a compilation by David Instone Brewer, Tyndale House, 
Cambridge. See www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk) 

Catholic Documents 

New Advent: newadvent.org/fathers/index.html (including a very 

helpful encyclopaedia: www.newadvent.org/cathen/ and the full 

Summa Theologica: newadvent.org/summa) 
Contra Gentiles: www.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/gc.htm 
Councils before 1450: 

cedar.evansville.edu/~ecoleweb/documentscou.html 
Later Councils: 

Trent: history.hanover.edu/early/trent.htm 

Vatican II: www.christusrex.org/wwwl/CDHN/vl.html 
Documents for various Orders & Organisations: 

listserv . american.edu/catholic/ 
Encyclicals and Other Papal Documents: 

listserv.american.edu/catholic/church/papal/papal.html 

Orthodox Documents 

St. Pachomius Library: 

www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/reading/St.Pachomius/ 
globalindex.html 

Reformation Texts 

Hanover texts: history.hanover.edu/early/theology.html (including 

Baxter, Bunyan, Calvin, Elizabethan Homilies, Fox, Hooker, Law, 

Luther, Melanchthon, Wesley and others) 
Project Wittenberg for Luther related texts: 

www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/wittenberg- 

home.html 

General collections of historical texts 

Ecole (texts up to 1500): cedar.evansville.edu/~ecoleweb 
Christian Classics Ethereal Library: www.ccel.org 



78 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook (covering a wide historical 

period): www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook2.html 
Theology Library: www.mcgill.pvt.kl2.al.us/jeiTyd/cm/thltxt.htm 
Project Gutenberg: ostpromo.net/pg 

Greek and Latin original texts 

These are usually only commercially available. 

Greek texts up to about 600 CE are on a Thesaurus Linguae Graecae 

CD: www.tlg.uci.edu/ 
Latin texts: Patrologia Latina: pld.chadwyck.co.uk (expensive) 
Web collections include: , 

Bibliotheca Augustana: 

www.fh-augsburg.de/~harsch/a_index.htm 
Perseus (a growing set of mainly early texts, with translations): 
perseus.csad.ox.ac.uk/Texts.html 

COUNSELING RESOURCES 

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS 

a. American Association of Christian Counselors: www.aacc.net/ 

b. Christian Association for Psychological Studies: www.caps.net/ 

c. American Counseling Association: www.counseling.org/ 

d. Ohio Counseling Association Counselor Links: 
www.ohiocounselingassoc.com/counselorlinks.html 

e. American Psychological Association:www.psych.org/ 

f. American Psychiatric Association: www.psych.org/main.html 

g. Mental Health Associations Indices with hotUnks: 

seamonkey.ed.asu.edu/%7Egail/assoc.htm 
www2.cybemex.net/%7ejas/index.html 

STATE AND FEDERAL RESOURCES 

a. Ohio Counselor and Social Worker Board: 

www.state.oh.us/csw/ 

b. Ohio's Laws and Rules online: 

www.state.oh.us/ohio/ohiolaws.htm 

c. National Institute of Mental Health : www.nimh.nih.gov/ 

d. National Institute on Drug Abuse: 

www.nida.nih.gov/NIDAHome 1 .html 

e. National Institutes of Health (NIH): www.nih.gov/ 



79 



Helpful Worldwide Web Sites 

DATABASES 

a. Psychlnfo database (the premier psychological database): 

www.ashland.edu/library/lib.html 

b. Medline (using Internet Grateful Med for searching, the premier 

medical database): igm.nlm.nih.gov/ 

c. ERIC database (education database, including counselor 

education): ericir.syr.edu/Eric/ 

ELECTRONIC REFERENCES AND RESOURCES 

a. Online Dictionary of Mental Health: 

w w w . shef . ac .uk/~psy sc/psychotherapy/index .html ♦ 

b. Electronic Dictionaries and Other Reference Works: 
www.niss.ac.uk/lis/dictres.html 

c. Psychology Related Electronic Journals and Periodicals 

psych.hanover.edu/Kran tz/joumal.html#psychjoumal 

d. The Student Counseling Virtual Pamphlet Collection 

uhs.bsd.uchicago.edu/scrs/vpc/virtulets.html 

TREATMENT GUIDELINES ^ * 

a. AHCPR clinical protocols - government sponsored treatment 

protocols: www.ahcpr.gov/ 

b. BehaveNet® Directory: Treatment Guidelines: 

www.behavenet.com/guidelines.htm 

c. Medscape, Treatment of Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia 

www.medscape.com/Medscape/psychiatry/ClinicalMgmt/ 
CM.vOl/public/index-CM.vOl.html 

OTHER RESOURCES 

a. Mental Health Net (for mental health professionals and 

laypeople): www.mentalhelp.net/ 

b. The Company Therapist (examples of patient files) 

www.thetherapist.com/Introduction.html 

c. Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling 

home.okstate.edu/homepages.nsf/toc/ce-index ' */ 

d. Free Counseling Software: 

www2.uta.edu/cussn/diskcopy/diskcopy.htm 



80 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

EVANGELISM AND CHURCH GROWTH 

Evangelism/Church Growth Resources: www.ashland.edu/~rwaters - 

This is a personal web site with several pages of links and of resources 
related to evangelism, church growth, renewal, church planting, and much 
more. 

New Life Ministries: www.NewLifeMinistries-NLM.org 

This site of resources and services focuses on evangelism, 
congregational growth and vitality, and church planting. It includes many 
online resources and serves as a portal to other Internet sites and web-based 
articles related to these topics. 

Smaller Churches Network: www.ashland.edu/~rwaters/smallchurches.htm 
This is a list of resources pertaining to ministry in small churches 
(averaging 100 or fewer in average worship attendance). It includes an e-mail 
discussion forum. 



81 



5 
g 



■ • »"K1« '"^^'<7 ms^mrMS& ' 



Generous Orthodoxy 



Evangelical Thlology 

IN A P O -J I - T H t O L O G i C A L E K A 



Ken. . . - . . g 
'^ '" C e n I e i" 




S'l \NI.I ^ I. Gri:n: 



0-8010-2239-8 • 368 pages • $23.99c 

"An important and provocative book. . . . Grenz has set forth 
an interpretation that cannot be ignored." 

— Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School 

"This account of where evangelical theology has been and 
where it is going bears all the virtues that one expects from a 
book by Stanley Grenz: clarity, fair-mindedness, thoughtful- 
ness, comprehension, and faithfulness." 

— Gary Dorrien, Kalamazoo College 



Baker Academic 



s 
S 
g 
g 



Subscribe to Baker Academic's electronic newsletter (E-Notes) 
at www.bakerbooks.com/academic 



'wmm^w > 



PXir/4mixm> . 



Ktsmiaamris . 



s 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 
BOOK REVIEWS 



Patrick Alexander, et al, ed., The SBL Handbook of Style for Ancient Near Eastern, 
Biblical, and Early Christian Studies. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1999. xiv + 280 pp. 
$24.95. 

This volume is the product of a partnership between the Society of Biblical 
Literature and the editorial staff of Hendrickson Publishers. Its goal is to provide a 
standard guide for all matters editorial in the production of a scholarly article or book 
in the field of Biblical studies (taken quite broadly). If followed conscientiously, this 
reference work promises to make the process of production easier for authors, copy 
editors, and proofreaders alike and to bring precision and standardization to the vast 
amount of literature being produced in Biblical studies. 

The book begins with a brief outline of the author's responsibilities from 
proposal to proofreading and indexing, and then moves into chapters on general stylistic 
concerns, transliterating various ancient scripts, indexing (including what to capitalize), 
how to cite just about anything in any language, proper bibliographical format for 
everything from ancient texts to internet publications (both following the MLA and 
social-scientific models), and abbreviations for ancient texts (from Philo to Qumran to 
ostraca) and modem research resources (journals, serials, and reference works). These 
resources are followed by several lengthy and helpful appendices: a 13-page example 
of an index giving many examples of how to spell frequently used terms and which to 
capitalize, a table of Ancient Near Eastern periods and their dates, a table outlining the 
various Ezra traditions (1-4 Ezra, 1-2 Esdras, Ezra, Nehemiah) and their relationship to 
each other, the canons of the synagogue and various arms of the Christian Church, a 
very handy table showing the differences between English OT, Hebrew Bible, and 
Septuagint versification, a complete bibliography of texts discovered in the Judean 
Desert, a concordance of Ugaritic texts, a lengthy table of Greek and Latin works and 
their abbreviations, Hebrew and Greek numerals, and common editing and proofreading 
marks. 

Where this book will help the student of the Bible, early church, or ancient 
Near East, is in the standardization it promises to bring to works written after 1999, if 
authors and editors adopt the guide as their standard. No longer will A.J., Ant., Antt., 
J.A., and the like all be used as abbreviations for Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, nor 
will Hanukkah stand alongside Chanukkah and other variants. I would strongly 
recommend this book as a desk reference for every scholar writing in these fields. The 
student who will be engaging serious study of scholarly works in the field would also 
find this a useful aid, however, as a guide to the abbreviations of ancient texts (like the 
various treatises of Plutarch or works of Ambrose) and modem resources (like the 
plethora of joumals), particularly the more obscure. It also offers perhaps the most up- 
to-date guide to citing sources, including now CD-ROM and various kinds of internet 
sources. This book could thus also supply a growing need among students writing 
papers across the seminary curriculum. David A. deSilva 



83 



Book Reviews 

Patrick Dumsau, High Places in Cyberspace: A Guide to Biblical and Religious Studies, 
Classics, and Archaeological Resources on the Internet, 2"*^ ed (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 
1998). xiii + 302, paper, $29.95. 

In a day when one hears so much about dangerous and unpleasant places on the 
Internet, it is refreshing to be reminded that it is also a tool for good. This book does this 
well, and in way that even novice should be able to use it. The first chapter briefly 
introduces the Internet and how to access it. A fuller treatment is found in Jason Baker's 
Christian Cyberspace Companion [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995, reviewed in ATJ 28 
[1996] 209). In the second chapter he introduces e-mail, usually the first Internet tool 
people encounter. He discusses in detail the various kinds of lists and groups which one 
is able to join, as well as providing a useful guide to 'netiquette,' since people too often 
forget civility (as well as rational thought and mechanics of spelling and grammar) when 
they enter what can be the anonymous world of cyberspace. Scholars and pastors will 
find this kind of service useful for dialogue and keeping abreast of developments in 
numerous areas of study and service. 

Chapter 3 provides a (too) brief, 2 page introduction to world wide web browsers 
(mainly Netscape and Internet Explorer), and chapter 4 introduces FTP (file transfer 
protocol). The latter goes beyond the novice, as does the following chapter on telnet, but 
both aspects of the Internet will repay exploration by those who delve a bit deeper into 
computer use. 

The most valuable section of the book is a list of 'Internet resources for biblical 
and religious studies, archaeology and classics.' This includes information on where and 
how to join 121 e-mail discussion lists on numerous topics, during which he refers to an 
even more comprehensive source at: http://info.ox.ac.uk/ctitext/theology/email.html, 
which is 'A Shortlist of Email Forums (sic) for Theologians. He also provides a 183 
page alphabetical directory of Web addresses for resources ranging from 'A-Z of Jewish 
& Israel Related Resources' through 'Inscriptions from the Land of Israel' to 'Chogye 
Zen,' along with a brief description of each. It is these resources, their constant 
burgeoning as well as their disappearance from the Web, which necessitated a new 
edition of the book only 2 years after it first appeared. It also illustrates the inability of 
print media to handle this kind of project adequately, since it is dated long before it 
reaches publication. The author promises updates at http://shemesh.scholar.emory.edu/ 
scripts/ highplaces.html. In spite of a notice at that location that an update would be 
available by 12/18/98, it was not found as of 7/9/99. A random test (of the three site 
mentioned above), the first and last were no longer available. 

Searching for resources such as these is part of the excitement of using the 
Internet, and Durusau has a chapter on 'searching for Internet resources' where he 
introduces some of the major search engines and explains how to most effectively use 
them. He closes his material with a chapter on 'creating a web resource' in which he 
addresses foundational questions such what you want to accomplish, as well as the 
different formats which are available. He also provides reference addresses to assist web 
resource creators. The book closes with an alphabetic index of the various sites 
discussed. 

Computers are becoming more and more commonplace in research and in 
everyday life. This will help those interested in the Bible and related areas to be able to 

84 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

more usefully use it for study and for ministry. Academic as well as many church 
libraries would find this an appropriate addition to their collection. David W. Baker 



Thomas Brisco , gen. ed., Holman Bible Atlas: A Complete Guide to the Expansive 
Geography of Biblical History. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1998. 298 pp. 
$39.99. 

An attractively produced volume, this Atlas presents an overview of life in the fertile 
crescent, lays out the history and geography of both the Old Testament period (including 
a fine introduction to Intertestamental history) and New Testament period (through the 
second Jewish revolt), closing with helpful indices, glossary, and bibliography. The text 
is well-written and is lavishly complemented by photographs, artists' reconstructions of 
sites, chronological tables, and maps. It is comparable to, though less detailed than, the 
Harper Atlas of the Bible, which also features a running history and feature articles on 
relevant topics. If one is looking merely for a collection of maps and some well-chosen 
photographs and site reconstructions, one would do better to consult the Hammond Atlas 
of the Bible Lands (which is relatively slim and inexpensive). If, however, one wants 
a more thorough exposure to the history and culture that brings the maps and 
illustrations to life, the Holman Bible Atlas would be a fine choice (though perhaps still 
a second choice to the Harper Atlas of the Bible). David A. deSilva 



John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson, The Hebrew English Concordance to 
the Old Testament with the New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998. 
xvi + 2192 pp., $99.00. 

Up to now, students who desired a Hebrew-English concordance which include 
some of the context of the relevant word had only one option. The Englishman 's Hebrew 
and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament, by George V. Wigram. This was based 
on the KJV and first published in 1843. A new lexicon has thus been desideratum for 
some time, and the need ha been well filled by the work under review. 

The volume starts with an introduction as to its use. Then the concordance proper 
presents each word in alphabetical order, with separate sections for Hebrew and 
Aramaic. The entries consist of: the word's number as assigned by 
Goodrick/Kohlenberger (G/K; a system which updates and corrects that used in Strong' s 
concordance), the Hebrew of the word and its transliteration into Roman characters, an 
identification of its part of speech, the frequency of use of the word with numbers in 
brackets for its occurrence first in BHS and second in the NIV, another bracketed 
reference following a square root sign to other semantically related words using the G/K 
number(s), a listing in descending frequency order of the various NIV translations of the 
word, and a list of verses in which the word is used with its context. The latter are in 
Protestant canonical order and include the verse reference, and a 5-10 word context of 
the relevant word which is itself printed in bold. 

Most words have a complete entry apart from the most conmion forms such as the 
copula 'and' and various prepositions, particles, adverbs and conjunctions. These have 

85 



Book Reviews 

a listing in the concordance proper with a list of the various NIV translations and the 
number of times each of these occur. More information is given on most of these in a 
following "Select Index" where actual verse references, without context. Several forms, 
e.g. the copula, the definite article, pronominal suffixes, are not so indexed. 

Following this there is an "NIV English-Hebrew & Aramaic Index" listed in 
alphabetical order following a listing of the occurrence of the numerals. Each entry has 
the NIV word, frequency of it in brackets, G/K number, Hebrew transliteration and 
Hebrew frequency, allowing one to move from NIV to Hebrew. There follows "A 
Concise Hebrew-English Dictionary" (and then one for Aramaic) with each entry 
including the Hebrew form, its transliteration, a brief gloss, and reference information 
on where the word is referred to in other lexica. Verbs also are glossed as to their verbal 
stem (each of which is abbreviated in a non-standard and opaque manner). 

The tool will be of great use to students of the Hebrew Bible. Those who can 
would still, however, be better served in using A. Even-Shoshan's A New Concordance 
of the Bible, 2"'' ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), since there all uses of each discrete 
form grammatical of the word is listed, making it possible to discover such things as 
verbal parallels more readily. The volume should be in all theological libraries, and most 
pastors and students will find use for it in their own study. David W. Baker 



Takamitsu Muraoka, Hebrew/Aramaic Index to the Septuagint. Grand Rapids, MI: 
Baker Book House, 1998. 160 pp. $19.99. 

With the diligent assistance of his wife, Muraoka has prepared an expanded and 
corrected version of the "Hebrew Index" of Hatch and Redpath's Concordance to the 
Septuagint. The original index provided a key to the page and column numbers in the 
massive 1 500-page Concordance where one could find the Greek equivalents to Hebrew 
terms. Muraoka now provides in a glance what those Greek equivalents are (so that one 
no longer has to thumb through the whole concordance) and has provided emendations 
of many kinds to the original. His work is best presented by example (the Hebrew and 
Greek appear in their proper characters in the actual books discussed). The original 
entry in Hatch and Redpath's Index might have simply read: 

hn 155b, 289 c, 451a, 538c, 583c, 1455a, 777c. 178a, 195a. 

Muraoka' s entry reads: 
hn 

areskeia 155b 

#dektos2%9c{Vx.22.n) 

Eleos, elaios 45la 

#epichares 538c (Na. 3.4) 

\epicharis 52)^c\ —*epichares 

eulalos 177c 

eumorphos 178a 

eucharistos 583c 

charis 14551, 195a (+ Si. 3.18; 7.33; 26.15) 



86 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

The reader can thus learn at a glance the semantic range of Hebrew jn in Septuagint 
Greek. Moreover, Muraoka has interacted critically with Hatch and Redpath. In the 
example, Muraoka has added dektos and epichares to Hatch and Redpath' s list, 
suggested that epicharis was, in fact, a mistake in Hatch and Redpath, and added several 
instances where Septuagint occurrences of a word need to be added to the occurrences 
listed in Hatch and Redpath (e.g., the additional verses of Ben Sira noted in the 
parentheses above. 

Obviously, this is a reference work for those working in lexicography and, in 
particular, textual criticism of the Hebrew Scriptures (e.g., reconstructing the Hebrew 
Vorlage of Septuagint readings). A reverse index (indicating the range of Hebrew words 
that could be represented by a single Greek word), while greatly lengthening the 
volume, would have made it a more complete aid, particularly helpful for mapping out 
the ways in which Greek and Hebrew semantic ranges overlap (as well as for textual 
reconstructions from the Septuagint). David A. deSilva 



Page H. Kelley, Daniel S. Mynatt, Timothy G. Crawford, The Masorah of Biblia 
Hebraica Stuttgartensia: Introduction and Annotated Glossary. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1998. xiv + 241 pp., paper, $26.00. 

The authors and Eerdmans have provided a valuable tool for intermediate and 
advanced students of Hebrew. As soon as a student encounters the Hebrew text in Biblia 
Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), the standard text of the Old Testament, they see notes 
and signs which they have never encountered before in their study of the Hebrew 
language. This volume seeks to demystify some of these. 

The Masoretes were the scribes who transmitted and interpreted the biblical text 
during the first millennium, of this era. They left their notes which are included in the 
margins, and in some cases within the body, of what is now the BHS. The authors 
introduce them and their work, and show how to understand and use these notes. 

The first chapter discusses what the Masorah is, why it is important for stud, and 
basic skills for doing so. The second gives the history of the Masorah and various of its 
traditions. Then follows a discussion of the 'proto-masoretic text,' irregularities in the 
consonantal text which the scribes noted and interpreted. A detailed discussion on 
working with the notes follows, and then 14 samples are introduced, moving from 
deductive to inductive study. The fifth and longest (125 pages) chapter is the glossary 
in which masoretic terms are translated, explained and exemplified. The book closes 
with an exhaustive, 24 page bibliography, and a valuable index of scripture passages 
discussed. 

The layout of the volume is excellent, and its larger than regular size allows good 
sized type and clear fonts, making it a pleasure to use. The volume does not cover 
accents or the more modem text critical issues raised in the second of the BHS critical 
apparatus, since that is beyond its scope. Students will find it very helpful in 
understanding the masoretic notes, and through them gain an insight into very early 
tradition of biblical interpretation. A must for all theological libraries, and for students 
of Scripture who desire to go beyond the introductory level of language competence. 

David W. Baker 



87 



Book Reviews 



David W. Baker and Bill T. Arnold, The Face of Old Testament Studies: A Survey of 
Contemporary Approaches. Baker/Apollos, 1999, 512 pages. 

When I began to study theology in 1961, there weren't many books on the Old 
Testament. Of the ones that existed, m copy of H. H. Rowley's The Old Testament and 
Modem Study looks as if it was the most used. It was our great standby for a 
predigested survey of the Old Testament scholarship of the day. 

The Face of Old Testament Studies presents itself as a work along the lines of The 
Old Testament and Modem Study, though it then draws attention to a distinctive feature, 
that it makes a point of noting the contributions of conservation scholars. Indeed, its 
remarkable achievement is that it is written by a team who all belong (or could all 
belong) to groups such as the Evangelical Theological Society or the Tyndale 
Fellowship. In the 1950s there were no evangelical Old Testament scholars contributing 
to works such as The Old Testament and Modem Study. It is a noteworthy fact that at 
the end of the millennium there can be a whole volume of them. 

In some cases they give us an advocacy of their own line (e.g., M. R. 
Adamthwaite on the occupation of Palestine or H. G. M. Williamson on the Second 
Temple period). In others they give us a survey of issues and approaches that leaves the 
answers more open (e.g., G. J. Wenham on the Pentateuch of K. L. Younger on early 
Israel - rather a different implicit stance from Adamthwaite' s, too). Either way, we get 
an illuminating take on the issues as they have argued over the past thirty years, which 
will help the hard-pressed professor get his or her mind round current debate. 

One of the editors comments that "knowledge in biblical studies is increasing 
exponentially, as it is in every field of knowledge". Yet the knowledge that increases 
is of a rather Pickwickian kind, for the authors make clear that much of the 
contemporary study that they chronicle involves the re-opening of questions that thirty 
years ago people thought were resolved, and the reconsidering of answers that were then 
rejected. In a real sense we "know" less than we knew thirty or forty years ago, about 
how the Pentateuch came to be written, or about the date of the exodus, or about how 
Israel became Israel in Palestine. This volume demonstrates that growth in knowledge 
over the past thirty years (e.g., through archeological discoveries) has increased 
unclarity and uncertainty rather than facilitating steps forward in understanding. 

Its authors apparently think that in due course we will know the answers to 
questions such as the ones I have mentioned. In some cases they are convinced of the 
right answers and urge others to recognize them. But the sobering implication of the 
theorizing that they study is that we never will know and never will agree. The problem 
is not merely that faith-presuppositions affect people's work, though the volume rightly 
notes that they do. Rather, the "problem" is that the study of the past thirty years has 
made it more clear that in the Old Testament, God has given us a book whose origins 
we cannot trace and whose correlation with middle-eastern history we cannot discover. 
The implication of this symposium is that the Old Testament does not deliver the kind 
of information that will ever enable us to answer those questions. As evangelicals we 
need to think about the implications of that fact. It does not imply any doubt on whether 
the Old Testament is God's Word. It does have implications for what might be God's 

m 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

concerns in giving it to us and for what its interpretation involves, for what the right 
questions are. 

The volume makes another aspect of its distinctive stance clear with an opening 
disavowal of some contemporary approaches to the Old Testament that seem to be 
"presuppositionally wrong-headed". Abandon post-modernism and post-structuralism 
all ye who enter here. As I have implied already, in this disavowal the volume makes 
clear that its main focus is a survey of the state of the art on the same approaches to the 
Old Testament that interested Rowley and Company. Historical study provides the 
dominant framework for looking at the Old Testament. Among the approaches to Old 
Testament study that do not count as "contemporary" are thus liberation interpretation, 
African-American interpretation, and feminist interpretation, which receive little 
mention compared with their great prominence in current scholarly work. 

Most oddly, ethics is "beyond the purview of this volume". One wonders why, 
especially when evangelicals such as C. J. H. Wright have made key contributions in 
that area. To make an overlapping point, there is little on the content of the codes in the 
Pentateuch or the priorities of the Prophets. The volume's focus on history indicates a 
resolutely modem agenda. This is so despite Tremper Longman' s comment, in a chapter 
on literary approaches to the Old Testament that does take up questions that were not 
being asked thirty years ago, that there is a need for a post-modem critique of 
modemism. Funny that evangelicals should have become the guardians of the historical- 
critical agenda. 

The blurb offers the commendations of Patrick Miller, Walter Bmeggemann, 
Desmond Alexander, Willem VanGemeren, and Daniel Block, which shows that I must 
be wrong in the qualifications to my admiration for this impressive symposium. 

John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary 



Walter Bmeggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy, 
Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997, xxi + 777 pp. 

This is a major work, by a leading scholar, written throughout with lucidity and 
passion. In an obvious sense, it sums up much that Bmeggemann has been speaking and 
writing about in recent years. Interestingly, however, it does not take the form that we 
expected from some of Bmeggemann' s preliminary essays, which suggests that 
Bmeggemann' s preliminary essays, which suggests that Bmeggemann' s thinking is still 
developing (a point which both admirers and detractors need to bear in mind). 

The main body of the work is framed by a retrospect and prospect about the 
discipline of Old Testament Theology, which shows many an incisive and provocative 
insight. One primary feature, here and throughout the work, is a passionate resistance 
to what Bmeggemann sees as a "too easy" Christian approach to the biblical text, in 
which interpreters are inclined to know (and prejudge) the answers before they have 
even formulated the right questions. On the one hand, he resists recurrent Christian 
attempts to downgrade the value and significance of the Old Testament by categorizing 
it as "law" or "promise," for Christians regularly misconceive the nature of torah and 
of Israel's cult, and ignore or downplay the disputatiousness and questioning of God that 
is so important within Israel's faith. "Old Testament theology must live with that 

89 



Book Reviews 

pluralistic practice of dispute and compromise, so that the texts cannot be arranged in 
any single or unilateral pattern. It is the process of dispute and compromise itself that 
constitutes Israel's mode of theological testimony" (p. 710). On the other hand, he 
insists that Christians must recognize the extent of common ground and task which they 
share with Jews, and so take with full theological seriousness the nature of Israel's 
witness to God as scripture for Jews independently of Christ. "If we are to interpret the 
Old Testament in our circumstance, it is clear that Jewish faith and an actual Jewish 
community must be on the horizon of Christians" (p. 734). 

While these emphases are familiar in other contemporary O.T. scholarship, 
Brueggemann firmly roots them in a postmodern context in which the arrogant claims 
of Christian "hegemony" (as Brueggemann understands classic Christian theology) must 
become more humble and fully recognize their position as one claim among others, with 
no special privilege. Brueggemann gives further sharpness to his position by a 
consistent emphasis upon rhetoric as foundational to his theology; that is, Israel's 
language about God, which Brueggemann suggestively construes in terms of testimony 
(and counter-testimony), cannot be grounded either in appeals to Israel's history (a move 
both similar and dissimilar to that of von Rad) or in appeals to ontology (as is 
characteristic of classic, ecclesial theology). On the one hand, the "fideistic" nature of 
Brueggemann' s position is clear, as in his comments on Genesis 22:16-18: "Everything 
about Israel's life in the world depends on these words having been uttered by Yahweh. 
Of course, beyond Israel's insistence, we have no evidence that Yahweh has uttered 
these words. The testimony of the Bible would have us take Israel's word as 
certification that these promises have indeed been uttered with ensuring power and 
significance. Beyond such testimony, Israel can provide no warrants for the claim, and 
certainly historical research cannot touch the issue" (p. 165f). On the other hand, the 
legitimate use of the language implies particular kinds of human living: "Yahweh, as 
given in Israel's testimony, never comes 'alone' but is always Yahweh-in-relation" (p. 
409); "the drama of brokenness and restoration, which has Yahweh as its key agent, 
features generosity, candor in brokenness, and resilient hope, the markings of a viable 
life" (p. 562); and, in short, "justice as the core focus of Yahweh' s life in the world and 
Israel's life with Yahweh" (p. 735). Thus Brueggemann sees the use of Israel's 
testimony to God as inseparable from the practice of justice; here, and not in history or 
ontology, is that which grounds testimony in reality. 

The exposition of the Old Testament is set out under four main headings: 1) 
Testimony, i.e., Israel's primary affirmations about God, set out in relation initially to 
those verbs of which Yahweh is subject, though also with particular focus on the 
adjectives of Exodus 34:6-7. Brueggemann' s presentation here breaks fresh ground; 
though the gain of seeing the "grammar" of Israel's language about God needs to be set 
against the fact that the narratives and poems, within which this grammar is set, often 
receive limited attention as narratives and poems. 2) Counter-Testimony, i.e., those 
passages where Israel recognizes the hidden, ambiguous and difficult character of God. 
3) Unsolicited Testimony, where fresh ground is broken in discussion of the nations as 
Yahweh' s partner (though with no reference to the basic Hebrew concept of "fear of 
God," which is expected of the nations as much as of Israel). 4) Embodied Testimony, 
where torah, king, prophet, cult and sage are considered as mediations of Israel's life 
with God. This overall structure works reasonably well, though it is surprising only to 

90 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

encounter Election under Unsolicited Testimony, and some of the material in section 4 
lacks the freshness of some of the other sections. As always with Brueggemann, there 
is extensive bibliography, much of it beyond the specialized sphere of Old Testament 
studies (though he does not always engage with the works cited; for example, he 
continues to treat Christian "supersessionism" towards the Old Testament and Jews as 
a negative and undifferentiated phenomenon [e.g., pp 330, 449, 734f]; my The Old 
Testament of the Old Testament, which tries to break new ground is noted [pp. 22, 414] 
but its arguments are ignored). 

Brueggemann situates Old Testament Theology unambiguously within a 
postliberal context (p. 86). He is clear about the need for rooting such theology in a 
"community that is unembarrassed about commitment that, in the pariance of 'objective 
rationality', may be categorized as bias or ideology" (p. 743), and that such an 
undertaking "is not in principle a second-rate or secondhand enterprise, but it can be a 
serious intellectual and moral undertaking that is not enthralled to a Cartesian attempt 
to think without body" (p. 744). There is a clarion call to the integration of Old 
Testament study and life which goes way beyond the standard fare of Old Testament 
Theologies, and which opens us vistas vital to the future of theological study of the Old 
Testament. 

This is therefore a work of biblical study which needs to be heeded. There will 
be many, not least in the USA, whose theological and political positions are not those 
of Brueggemann. All the more important, then, to engage with the theological and 
moral issues Brueggemann raises with the seriousness which they require, and to allow 
Brueggemann's work to help move biblical interpretation into fresh categories of 
understanding which can help us escape from some of the old labels and trenches. 

Of the many possible issues for further discussion, I select one, that is 
Brueggemann' s detachment of Old Testament language about God not only from history 
but also from ontology (and the classic Christian theology which Brueggemann sees as 
prepossessed with ontology, reductionism and control). He is clear that is theology 
means "an attempt to exposit the theological perspectives and claims of the [sc. OT] text 
itself, in all its odd particularity, without any attempt to accommodate to a larger 
rationality, either of modernity or of classical Christianity" (p. 86). This means that 
classic Christian concerns about the "reality" of God are misplaced: "I insist that it is 
characteristic of the Old Testament, and characteristically Jewish, that God is given to 
us (and exists as God 'exists') only by the dangerous practice of rhetoric. Therefore in 
doing Old Testament theology we must be careful not to import essentialist claims that 
are not authorized by this particular and peculiar rhetoric. / shall insist, as consistently 
as I can, that the God of Old Testament theology as such lives in, with, and under the 
rhetorical enterprise of the text, and nowhere else and in no other way" (p. 66). So 
when, for example, we are told that the God of the Old Testament (a character within 
Israel's rhetoric, not an ontological reality) is "sometimes unreliable and notoriously 
cunning" (p. 132), needs to be "talked into something Yahweh had not yet entertained 
or imagined or intended" (p. 439), and displays "negligence" and "mean-spirited 
irascibility" (p. 560), this is not an occasion for the misplaced Christian question, "But 
how does this relate to the God in whom I trust?", but an occasion to celebrate the 
denseness and daring of Israel's testimony and to resist reductive attempts to resist or 
explain away such language. 

91 



Book Reviews 

At the risk of oversimplifying, it seems to me that there are two basic options ir 
Old Testament Theology. One is to hold that although we have no access to God excepi 
via the language of scripture and appropriate ways of living, such language and living 
are media of engagement with a reality beyond themselves (a "classic" position). The 
other is to hold that the language and living themselves constitute the reality of God, anc 
that there is no "further reality" beyond them (a "postmodern" position). Brueggemann 
as far as I can see (unless I misunderstand him), has opted for the latter, and in so doing 
has surrendered something that Jews and Christians alike down the ages {mutath 
mutandis) have believed to be integral to their faiths. For it is only when you hold to the 
former position that classic theology can be recognized for what it truly is, namely the 
disciplining and regulating of testimony to God so that it may be faithful and true, rathei 
than idolatrous and self-serving. For the Christian this means engagement with the trutl 
of God in Jesus Christ, for here the truth of God and humanity is known supremely. The 
fact that Brueggemann can so easily and sweepingly dismiss classic Christian theolog) 
in favor of a rather easy appeal to contemporary postliberal theologians, suggests £ 
failure to grasp Christian theology's true significance. Do not Eastern Orthodo> 
theologians, for whom a critique of facile ontology is basic to their apophatic 
Trinitarianism, have something to teach us? Are Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin and Bartl 
really such men of straw? (I am sure that Brueggemann does not think so, but his bool 
gives the impression.) 

Towards the end of the book Brueggemann restates his concern to free Ok 
Testament Theology from being endlessly seduced "by the ancient Hellenistic lust foi 
Being, for establishing ontological reference behind the text. Thus, for example 
Brevard Childs reaches for 'the Real'. Perhaps such thinking is inevitable, given oui 
Hellenistic, philosophical inheritance. The truth of the matter, as far as Israel is 
concerned, is that if one believes the testimony, one is near to reality. And if not, one 
is not near reality, for the Real is indeed uttered. Such a construal will not satisf) 
modernist historicism nor the philosophically minded... It may well be that I have noi 
given correct nuance to these matters because I lack knowledge in the appropriate 
adjunct disciplines. I have no doubt, nonetheless, that Old Testament theology in the 
future must do its work in reliance on the lean evidence of utterance" (p. 714). 

Three comments on this. First, Brueggemann misrepresents Childs, who is simpl) 
rearticulating the classic Jewish and Christian concern to speak of God via the biblica 
text, on the historic/classic/orthodox assumption that there is more to God than biblica 
religious language, ancient history, and contemporary human actions. Secondly 
Brueggemann sees only history and philosophy as the prime disciplines which might be 
offended (and about which he confesses that he may be insufficiently informed), wit! 
no sense that theology itself might be a discipline which could take exception to his 
dismissals of history and ontology. Thirdly, it is all very well to say that "if one 
believes the testimony, one is near to reality." But how is one to assess testimoniej 
which conflict? This is the classic issue of truth in relation to language about God thai 
the Old Testament itself raises in the context of true and false prophecy. Yet about this 
Bureggemann has little to say, and what he does say is disappointing. When discussing 
divine calling of prophets (which remains a kind of template within Christian faith 
today), he can only say that these "make a claim of authority that is impossible to verify 
That is, all of these claims and uses are reports of a quite personal, subjective 

92 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

experience. No objective evidence can be given that one has been in the divine 
council... No verficiation of a call experience is possible" (p. 631). At the very place 
where one needs the language and insights of moral and spiritual discernment - the 
perrennial primary form of theological hermeneutics - Brueggemann, who is usually so 
critical of Enlightenment rationality, himself lapses into the language of unreconstructed 
positivism, with its neat dichotomy between the "objective" (accessible, public, 
discussable) and "subjective" (inaccessible, private, non-discussable), whereby 
encounter with God (and truthful speaking for God) is relegated to the insignificance of 
the latter. Of course, Brueggemann' s major emphasis on justic and community moves 
in the opposite direction. But I suspect that something rather important has not yet been 
fully thought through. 

To sum up, Brueggemann is rightly trying to relocate Old Testament Theology 
within a context that is more truly theological. Yet the book is, in my judgement, 
insufficiently rooted in the disciplines of theology to be fully persuasive. Why a 
postliberal Christian theologian who wishes to respect the integrity of the Old Testament 
and of Jewish faith should thereby feel obligated (in effect) to marginalize Jesus Christ 
in his theological work in a manner rather similar to that of a liberal historian is, to me 
at least, puzzling. And although one could do far worse than an account of God rooted 
in compassionate and just contemporary communities, many a believer may still feel 
shortchanged. Indeed, and ironically, the very reductionism with reference to God, to 
which Brueggemann is so opposed, will be felt by many to characterize his own account 
of God which, by the dismissal of history and ontology, is itself thereby reduced. 

Walter Moberly, Durham, United Kingdom 



F. Criisemann, The Torah: Theology and Social History of Old Testament Law, trans. 
A.W. Mahnke (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), hbk., xvi + 460 pp., ISBN 0-8006-2856-X. 
Translation of German original. Die Tora: Theologie und Sozialgeschichte des 
alttestamentlichen Gesetzes (Munich: Chr. Kaiser, 1992). 

Criisemann' s work is certainly one of the most significant books to have been 
written on OT law in recent years. Its importance derives above all from the attempt to 
integrate historical, social, literary and theological elements into a single overall 
perspective on Torah. Criisemann' s primary aim is the reinstatement of law within 
Christian theology, since in his view the Torah transmits 'the one will of the one God, 
creator of all humanity, to a single people - his Israel' (p. 3). This unitary approach is 
in conflict with the usual eclectic and arbitrary use of Torah by Christians, as 
exemplified by the common classification into civil, ceremonial and moral law, or the 
assumption that the Ten Commandments should be elevated above all other forms of 
law. These kinds of analyses all have the effect of treating parts, sometime large parts, 
of the Torah as of secondary value. 

While Criisemann's effort at integration is highly laudable, in reality most of the 
book is taken up with a detailed analysis of the social and historical developments of the 
Pentateuchal law collections. Only in the final chapter does he return at any length to 
the theological issues. Though the Torah' s most distinctive features are attributed to the 
theological reflections of the deuteronomic movement (cf. Dt. 6-11), the Torah' s 

93 



Book Reviews 

ultimate unity is associated with the development of monotheistic ideas in the post-exilic 
period. As Israel came to see all of life as subject to Yahweh's jurisdiction, so the law 
became correspondingly inclusive. 'The identity of the biblical God is dependent upon 
the connection with his Torah' (p. 366). Historically, this climax was reached towards 
the end of the Persian period. It was influenced by Ezra's integration of state and 
religious law and Nehemiah's combination of laws from the priestly and deuteronomic 
collections and the Book of the Covenant (Neh. 10). An interesting analogy to the 
Pentateuch's location of contradictory law collections alongside one other is found in 
Xerxes' edict overriding but not annulling Haman's original edict announcing the 
destruction of the Jews (Est. 8). Like the laws of the Medes and Persians, the 
Pentateuchal laws could not be changed. 

The chronological development of the major law collections is presented in the 
usual order of the Book of the Covenant, Deuteronomy, and the Priestly Writing. 
Special attention is also given to the references to law in the pre-exilic prophetic 
literature, the role of the Sinai laws and of Moses. The covenantal emphasis of the Sinai 
material is regarded as one of the latest elements in the Pentateuch. Criisemann regards 
Sinai as an Utopian ideal independent of royal and cultic influence, though he recognises 
that this 'depends on a fictional place in an invented past' (p. 57). Moses is also viewed 
non-historically. He represents the authority of law, though he cannot be identified with 
any particular civil or religious authority such as the monarchy or Ezra. He is a figure 
of tradition who also represents the freedom and autonomy of God's law in contrast to 
all other forms of law in Israel. 

It is not possible in this brief summary to give more than the merest indication of 
the possible strengths and weaknesses of this volume. Its greatest potential value lies 
in the theological emphasis that the Torah can be understood in terms of its unity. 
Criisemann's comments on the significance of the whole Torah for Christian theology 
and ethics are of particular importance. On the other hand, his attempts to wrestle with 
the variety of the Pentateuchal law collections makes some of his historical conclusions 
much more questionable. For example, why could the Utopian flavour of the Sinai laws 
not indicate that they belong to the beginning of the process of the development of law 
rather than the end? Though this volume does not perhaps quite fulfil the author's hope 
of providing a secure basis for using the Old Testament in discussions about ethics or 
the relationship between Christianity and Judaism, it will certainly make a significant 
contribution to such debates. Martin J. Selman 



Donald E. Gowan. Theology of the Prophetic Books: The Death and Resurrection of 
Israel. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998. Paperback, 250pp. $24.95. 

Interpretation of a corpus so varied and complex as the writing prophets of the 
Hebrew Bible is a daunting task. In The Death and Resurrection of Israel Gowan offers 
a lens which he believes will lend clarity to the prophets' comprehensive message. He 
adopts a canon critical approach, leaving to others the involved questions of redaction. 

A well-qualified and winsome scholar from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the 
author adopts the term "death" to refer to Israel's exile and consequent loss of political 
identity, the result of her failure to distinctively represent the character of God among 

94 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

surrounding nations (pp. 9-10). "Resurrection," then, refers to the nation of Israel's 
restoration as projected by the prophets. 

Of particular value in this synthetic work is the author's attention to historic 
background for each prophet. While some will differ in issues of date, Gowan makes 
every attempt to draw on what we know of Israel's story to illuminate the prophetic 
messages. 

As to application of the death / resurrection interpretive lens, certain of Gowan' s 
conclusions are predictable (such as the fact that as one leaves 8"' century texts and 
moves into exilic and post-exilic material the theme of restoration increases in 
prominence). At times the thesis that early prophets concentrated on death /judgment 
seems to overlook invitations to repentance (e.g., Hos. 6). 

Jonah, with no apparent message for the future of the Israelite nation, poses a bit 
of a problem for the death / resurrection interpretation. While one can heartily concur 
that the book's "deeper theme is the character of God" (p. 141), to concentrate on Jonah 
as a reflection on the apparent "shift from judgment to promise that occurred during the 
exilic period" would seem unduly to blunt the book's incisive message (p. 138). Must 
we not also (and primarily) become impacted by the depth to which God would feel the 
loss of gentiles represented by judgment-threatened Ninevites? 

In conclusion, while the exile / restoration lens certainly offers a comprehensive 
view encompassing much prophetic material, Gowan's work unfortunately left me 
unsatisfied, neither significantly challenged nor enriched in my grasp of this vital 
corpus. Paul Overland 



J.H. Walton & V.H. Matthews, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Genesis - 
Deuteronomy (Downers Grove: IVP, 1997). 280pp. -i- 4 maps, (hbk.) 

The Bible Background Commentary is a different kind of Bible commentary. 
Rather than helping readers to understand the actual text of Scripture, its aim is to 
explain the background to the text. For example, this volume on Genesis to 
Deuteronomy volume discusses where the garden of Eden might have been, why the 
Israelites practised animal sacrifice, or whether the command to take 'an eye for an eye, 
a tooth for a tooth' is as cruel and extreme as is often claimed. In the light of this, it is 
perhaps questionable whether it should be called a commentary at all in the usual sense 
of the word. In reality it is more of a reference work, to be consulted on points of 
interest or in order to find out more information about 'the world behind the text'. 

The Commentary contains various kinds of notes. Where possible, explanations 
are provided about individual people, places and customs, though as in the case of the 
kings in Gen. 14, it is often necessary to acknowledge that we still know comparatively 
little about them. Otherwise, comment is restricted either to general cultural 
background, or to explaining one biblical passage on the basis of others. The 
patriarchs' practice of passing off their wives as their sisters, for example, is described 
in terms of a literary motif, while Sarah's attractiveness at the age of 65 is dealt with by 
way of a linguistic comment. In other words, the background is as likely to be 
innerbiblical as extrabiblical, or sometimes is simply subject to the best suggestions of 
the commentators. 



95 



Book Reviews 

The Commentary will be most useful to those who are consciously looking for 
background information and who are aware of the self-imposed limitations of the series, 
but some words of caution are appropriate. The fact that the Commentary is designed 
for so-called laypeople and so contains no footnotes or precise references means that 
readers basically have to take the authors' word for what they say. However, some of 
the comments are quite demanding, especially those including unfamiliar names and 
words from ancient languages, and will be difficult for the intended readership to 
evaluate. The consciously evangelical nature of this production also raises some 
questions, even for those who are basically in sympathy with the authors' 
presuppositions. Assumptions such as a fifteenth century B.C. date for the exodus or the 
identification of Azazel in the Day of Atonement rituals with a demon will not be shared 
by all informed readers and could be misleading to others. 

A further frustration is that although we are told that the Pentateuch's perspective 
often differs from the cultural perspective of the ancient Near East, we are given little 
if any guidance as to how to appreciate those differences. Deuteronomy for example is 
described as a covenant document rather like an ancient treaty, but without any 
indication that the nature of the covenant in Deuteronomy might differ significantly 
from the ideological world of ancient international law. Underlying this problem is a 
lack of any discussion about either the nature or content of the books of the Pentateuch. 
Without such guidance, it is almost impossible for the kind of uninformed reader for 
whom the book is intended to set the cultural notes in a proper context. So while the 
authors' aim is very laudable, a less sharp distinction between Bible background and 
Bible text would have assisted in giving a clearer understanding of the background. 

Martin J. Selman 



William H. C. Propp, Exodus 1-18, Anchor Bible 2. New York: Doubleday, 1999. xl + 
680 pp. hardback, $44.95. 

Jack M. Sasson, Jonah^ Anchor Bible 24B. New York: Doubleday, 1990. xvi -h 368 pp., 
hardback, $32.50. 

Adele Berlin, Zephaniah, Anchor Bible 25A. New York: Doubleday, 1994. xxi + 165 
pp., hardback, $29.00. . . 

Andrew Hill, Malachi, Anchor Bible 25D. New York: Doubleday, 1998. xliii + 436 pp., 
hardback, $37.95. 

Appearance of volumes in this well-known series continues at a steady pace. Its 
eclectic nature is shown by diversity of gender and theological approach. Hill being an 
Evangelical teaching at Wheaton College, Berlin is a Jewish scholars teaching at the 
University of Maryland, {Propp teaches at the University of California, San Diego and 
Sasson at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill. The format of introduction, 
commentator's translation, philological and exegetical notes on the translation, and 
comment on historical and literary matters is familiar from earlier volumes of the series. 

Berlin's expertise is in literary analysis of texts, so she takes a special interest in 

96 



I 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Zephaniah's rhetoric, and in seeing the unity rather than any suggested fragmentation 
of the text. She states "viewing it [Zeph 2:5-15, but this could also refer to the entire 
book] as a whole yields an interpretation much more interesting and compelling than 
viewing it as a collection of separate parts [italics hers]" (p. 23). This is a refreshing 
reminder of a groundswell of current opinion which is running counter to the traditional, 
atomistic approach which would perform an autopsy on living texts, leaving them 
lifeless and unpreachable. 

It is intriguing how such an approach as espoused by Berlin can reach 
conservative conclusions regarding such things as authorship and historical backgrounds 
for other than traditionally conservative reasons. For example, while a conservative 
would date the prophecies to the time of Josiah since it is so stated in the book's 
superscription, Berlin asks, "Why was the period of Josiah chosen as the setting for 
Zephaniah?...What did the Josianic period represent to a later generation?" 
Conservatives would get upset at the first question, stating that the period was chosen 
only by God, not by some human writer as an artificial place to place the prophetic 
oracles. This would be likely to have them not pose the second question, which is a vital 
one since the prophecy is not recorded for the original audience, who would have heard 
the messages in person, but for later generations who would take it as Scripture. This 
kind of question is canonically very significant. 

Sasson is an Assyriologist, and his interest in ancient Near Eastern background 
material does come through in his coverage. More evident are elements of post-biblical 
usage and interpretation of Jonah, for example, which he uses quotes at the head of each 
section from elsewhere in the OT, the apocrypha, NT and rabbinic writings, and from 
later writers and thinkers such as the Quran, John Donne, John Calvin, Herman Melville, 
Aldous Huxley, and even Paul Simon. In his discussion of literary and linguistic forms, 
Sasson also quotes liberally from other similar passages in the OT, so presenting a 
veritable 'Bible study.' Most of his linguistic discussion is based simply on a 
transliterated Hebrew text, however, so the lay-person will miss out on much of the 
discussion, unlike the more readily accessible Berlin text. He concludes with an 
interesting section on 'Interpretations' where he looks at 'Jonah as History or Fiction' 
and 'Narrative Art and Literary Typology in Jonah.' 

Hill has special interest in linguistic, literary and historical questions. His book 
goes in much more depth than those mentioned above, and he includes indexes on 
intertextuality (places where there is reliance between Malachi and other scriptural 
passages) and vocabulary richness in Malachi (words and phrases unique to the book, 
of which there are a good number). A bibliography of some 35 pages, as well as a 
glossary, maps, charts, photos and illustrations keep the interest of the reader in mind. 
Hill also has his wider reading constituency in mind in that he does not stay only with 
the or text, but also shows its use in the NT as well as in liturgy among Jews, Catholics, 
Protestants and Orthodox. Following a lengthy introduction, in which he helpfully 
places the book in canon, history, and literature, he provides useful comment on Hebrew 
forms found in the text, using transliteration but not always a translation. Readers with 
some knowledge would find the volume of most use, though those without this can also 
find much of use. 

Propp's volume has even more of a bibliography, almost 50 pages, though a 
briefer introduction than Hill. He reflects his view of the composition of Exodus 

97 



Book Reviews 

(following the Documentary Hypothesis), by putting the verses he attributes to the 
Priestly source in bold type. He also has an interesting feature which he identifies as 
'speculation' for his more personal interpretations. An interesting one on 1:22-2:10 
shows the author's view of the historicity of the Mosaic ark story. He writes: "Despite 
my overall skepticism, it is barely possible that the unusual motif of adoption by a 
princess dimly reflects actual events" (p. 158). 

Propp' s commentary proper uses abundant internal cross-referencing to its various 
sections (textual notes, source analysis, redaction analysis, notes, and comment) so 
repetition can be kept to a minimum. Page cross-references would be helpful here, and 
it particularly annoying in this volume when cross-reference is made to an appendix 
which will not appear until the work is finished in volume 2. This volume should not, 
therefore, be seen as being completely self-standing. 

These volumes, as in fact the entire series, must be in any serious theological 
library, and pastor and teacher will benefit from them on their shelves as well. As for 
any commentary, however, I recommend that the perspective purchaser use a copy from 
the library for a time. This will allow them to ascertain whether any particular volume 
well suits his or her individual needs. David W. Baker 



Erhard S. Gerstenberger, Leviticus: A Commentary, Old Testament Library. Louisville: 
Westminster John Knox, 1996, translated from a German original, published 1993. 

Frank H. Gorman, Jr., Divine Presence and Community: A Commentary on the Book of 
Leviticus, International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids/Edinburgh: 
Eerdmans/Handsel, 1997. xii + 163 pp., paper, $18.00. 

It is interesting to note that Leviticus, probably one of the most neglected of the 
OT books, is served by two new commentaries in two important series in close 
proximity. Gerstenberger teaches in Marburg, Germany, and Gorman does so in 
Bethany, West Virginia. Both function well within the parameters set for their respective 
series. 

The Old Testament Library sets out to present a serious, academic study reflecting 
mainline scholarship. This volume is a worthy addition to the series, and follows its 
traditional format. There is a 19 page introduction which discusses topics such as "cult 
and life," authorship (input from the Jews in dispersion, not just the Jerusalem 
priesthood, and in the main associated with the post-exilic period), and a brief excursus 
on the "Holiness Code" (which he views as a "wishful phantom." He then provides a 
commentary on the book in canonical order, and concludes with a very brief topical 
index. No author or citation index is provided, greatly reducing accessibility to the work. 

The commentary provides interesting and useful information, including thoughts 
on use of the textual material in the rest of the OT as well as sociological aspects of the 
rituals presented. There is little verse-by-verse, detailed commentary provided, rather 
broader, more thematic brushstrokes. This does keep the volume within reasonable size 
limits, but will frustrate raeders who wish to dig deeper into particular texts. For this 
they will need to consult Jacob Milgrom's mammoth commentary in the Anchor Bible 
series, due for completion in 2000. 

98 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Gorman's volume is even slighter, as fits the series of which it is a part. Also 
suggesting an exilic date, he acknowledges much material as coming from an earlier 
period in Israel's history. He also keeps in mind the wider Pentaeuchal context of 
Leviticus as it works within the context of creation, promise. Exodus and Sinai 
covenant, a useful reminder when Scripture is too often atomized and decontextualized. 
In his introduction, Gorman also addresses topics such as ritual enactment, the 
symbolism of the number seven, and a four page consideration of Christian use of 
Leviticus. 

The volume provides a useful introduction to the book, though again not a 
detailed commentary. It will challenge and provide insight to the reader, and has a 
commendable range of interaction with other scripture passages for such a small scope 
(only 132 pages of commentary proper). Expositors will find useful material in both 
volumes, though neither of them should be the sole commentary in their library on this 
neglected book. The two works need to be on all serious academic library shelves. 

David W. Baker 



A. Graeme Auld, Joshua Retold: Synoptic Perspectives, Old Testament Studies, 
Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998, 179 pp. 

This anthology brings together a wide-ranging collection of texts, written over a 
period of approximately twenty years, which focus on issues related to the literary 
history of Joshua. Although concerned with a variety of topics and texts, the essays (to 
degree or another) touch upon two important issues: 1) the relationship between the 
Greek and Masoretic texts of Joshua and 2) the material common to Joshua and 
Chronicles and its contribution to understand the editorial processes operative in the 
production of these books. The essays are grouped into four sections and prefaced by 
a helpful "orientation" which provides a framework and enables the reader to appreciate 
connections between them. 

The first section comprises five essays collected under the title "Texts." As a 
whole, the essays demonstrate that careful analysis of textual differences can make a 
considerable contribution to understanding the literary history of Joshua. Undergirding 
each is Auld's argument that the Greek version of Joshua represents a shorter and more 
preferable text than that attested by the Masoretic Text. The argument is introduced in 
the first essay via a comparison of the Greek and Masoretic versions of the battle at Ai 
(Joshua 8), the passover and circumcision ceremonies (Josh 5), and divergences in tribal 
nomenclature and references to the deity. A second essay advances the argument with 
an exploration of the textual differences in Josh 13 and 14 (with special attention on 
14:1-5). The remaining three contributions expand the discussion to engage larger 
compositional questions, with the lists of levitical cities (Josh 21:1-42) and cities of 
refuge (Josh 20) as focal points. Arguing against the prior consensus, Auld asserts that 
1 Chronicles 6 preserves an earlier form of the former list, one that is itself a "collage" 
that suggests its own process of growth. The Greek text of Joshua constitutes a middle 
version between the Chronicler's list and the more expansive and systematic form in 
Joshua 2 1 . The process and character of expansion is further illustrated in the case of 
the cities of refuge, which manifests an even more complex editorial process (which 

99 



Book Reviews 

draws from Deuteronomic texts as well as the aforementioned passages in 1 Chronicles 
and Deuteronomy). The final essay engages various scholarly responses to Auld's 
conclusions on the lists and nudges the reader to reflect on the historical and exegetical 
implications of the discussion. 

Three short essays comprise the second section, under the heading "Words." As 
the heading indicates, each has to do with particular terms. The first is a short note 
wherein the author cautions that identification of obscure place names must be grounded 
in solid text critical work, with the so-called "Beth-anath" (Josh 15:59) as a case in 
point. The second and third essays demonstrate how careful study of word usage may 
give insight into the compositional process and challenge scholarly consensus. The 
former concludes that the term kbsh in Gen 1:28 was likely inserted to effect a 
connection with the subjugation of the land (cf. Josh 18:1), while the latter argues that 
the terms vfi/and mfh (both of which are translated "staff or "tribe") display a semantic 
development from "authority" to "autonomous group" which is completed only during 
the post-exilic period. 

The third section, "Connections," expands the scope of study to explore 
relationships between larger blocks of material. It begins with a detailed study of Judges 
1 which, Auld argues, constitutes a relatively late composition which draws materials 
from Joshua and other sources to form a preface for the book. Two essays follow and 
explore Joshua's relationship to the other books of the so-called Deuteronomistic 
History and 1-2 Chronicles. The first raises a series of provocative challenges to Noth's 
hypothesis of a massive, connected narrative, while the second returns to the topic of 
parallel material in Joshua and Chronicles and, through numerous examples, skillfully 
argues for the possibility of (at least) mutual influence. The last essay revisits questions 
about the Deuteronomistic History, this time by engaging Mieke Bal's reading of 
Judges and reexamining the "Deuteronomistic" character of key texts advanced in 
support of the hypothesis. 

The fifth section, "Interpretations," contains one essay that reviews the history of 
the interpretation of Joshua up to 1995. A final section, "re-orientation," supplements 
this last essay with a summary of arguments made in the author's Joshua, Moses, and 
the Land (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1980) and a review of recent scholarship. A 
comprehensive bibliography and a series of indexes complete the volume. 

Auld's work is characterized by meticulous attention to the text, tight 
argumentation, and irenic engagement with scholarship. As such, the essays in this 
volume represent textual analysis at its best. As a whole, they not only provide models 
for how such work should be done but also demonstrate the larger exegetical gains that 
accrue from rigorous study. As a compendium of exegetical paradigms, the book will 
be of particular interest to those seeking a fuller understanding of critical method, while 
the cumulative weight of the essays will certainly elicit a significant conversation on the 
larger issues they raise. L. Daniel Hawk 



Karen H. Jobes, Esther. The NIV Application Commentary, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 
1999. 

For those unacquainted with the NIV Application Commentary series, it joins a 

100 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

number of commentary series which make a deliberate attempt to explore the 
contemporary significance of a particular book of the Bible. Each passage is treated in 
three sections: Original Meaning, Bridging Contexts, and Contemporary Significance. 
The commentary does not require an understanding of Hebrew and Greek. 

Jobes' exposition and application of the text is fresh and insightful. Immediately 
one can see this commentary providing background for a sermon or study series. 

The story of Esther is perfect guidance for us "when we find ourselves in a 
situation where right and wrong are not so clearly defined and every choice we have 
seems to be a troubling mixture of good and bad." 

The writer asks interesting questions of this Old Testament book. For example: 
Who is the main character of Esther? Is it Esther or is it Mordecai? Wisely, the 
commentary allows this to be answered by the reader. Yet, in wrestling with the option 
one gains insight into how God might use different people in a difficult situation. 
Certainly Esther provides an example for the church of male/female partnership as 
leaders. 

Particularly insightful is the treatment of interplay of "providence" and human 
behavior. By maintaining a healthy tension between the two poles one can appreciate 
God's utilization of our best effort for his perfect purposes. 

The commentary's introduction is insightful and provocative. For preaching 
points, one should pay special attention to this introductory material. 

One would hope that the other volumes in this NIV Application Commentary 
series are as inspirational as "Esther." Cliff Stewart, Abilene, Texas 



Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 1-24 (The New International 
Commentary on the Old Testament). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1997. 

Daniel Block's massive commentary will become a standard for Ezekiel studies 
for years to come. The commentary draws together the best insights of the two great 
Ezekiel commentators, Moshe Greenberg and Walther Zimmerli, and then moves 
beyond them. In the tradition of Greenberg, Block emphasizes the literary unity and 
artistry of Ezekiel. In the tradition of Zimmerli, Block leaves no linguistic or 
theological stone unturned. 

Block's approach is guided by four simple questions, behind which lies a maze 
of potential complexity: "(1) Ezekiel, what are you saying? (the text-critical issue); (2) 
Ezekiel, why do you say it like that? (the cultural and literary issue); (3) Ezekiel, what 
do you mean? (the hermeneutical and theological issue); (4) Ezekiel, what is the 
significance of this message for me? (the application issue)" (p. xi). 

The commentary on each textual unit begins with Block's translation, along with 
footnotes on text-critical matters. A second section, "Nature and Design," includes 
discussion of style, structure and literary context, followed by verse by verse exposition. 
A third section, "Theological Implications," summarizes "the permanent theological 
lessons of the unit" (p. xii). 

The commentary's chief strength is its attention to detail. One finds, e.g., two 
pages on the Tammuz cult (8:14-15); identification of the divination techniques 
"belomancy or rhabdomancy " (2 1 : 26 [ET 2 1 : 2 1 ] ) ; and citation of extrabiblical texts that 

101 



Book Reviews 

describe the departure of the god from its temple as a prelude to foreign invasion 
(275-76). 

Having said that, readers should not be deterred by the many details. One can 
easily dip into the commentary at any point and discover a nugget. The commentary 
both presents a thorough exposition of the text, and offers a clear restatement of 
Ezekiel's theological vision. Block does not hesitate to allow Ezekiel's challenges of 
Jerusalem's theological certainties also to address, and destabilize, some of our own 
theological and ideological "certainties." 

Criticism of this commentary will seem like grasping at straws. Rather, two 
observations will suffice. The first pertains to how Block integrates the literary structure 
of composite texts with theological reflections on entire units. Consider the treatment 
of chapters 8-11. Although Block concedes that these chapters are composite, including, 
e.g., two unrelated oracles that are clearly editorial insertions (11:1-13; 1 1:14-21), he 
argues for the "literary cohesion" of chapters 8-11. Accordingly, the "Theological 
Implications" of the temple vision of chapters 8- 1 1 occurs at the end of the entire unit, 
after the editorial framing of the entire unit in 11:22-25. The two "relatively 
independent" literary units (11:1-13; 11:14-21) lead Block to include two sections of 
"Theological Implications" prior to the "Theological Implications" section for chapters 
8-11. Thus, although the entire unit has a logical coherence, as argued well on pp. 
342-45, the theological implications of chapters 8-11 must be sought in three different 
places (pp. 340, 355, 359). The impact of Ezekiel's editorial art would have been 
enhanced had the "Theological Implications" of chapters 8-11 also presented an 
integrated theological reading of the entire unit. The only significant theological 
reflection on the editorial insertion of 11:14-21 occurs in an earlier section, which 
indicates that these verses represent "a promissory note of restoration" even before the 
judgment has come to completion, a kind of "light at the end of the tunnel" (p. 356). 

The second observation concerns how the commentary allows the shocking 
dimensions of Ezekiel's words and actions to impinge on the "Theological Implications" 
of the text. The strength of the commentary is its consistent laying bare "The Enduring 
Theology of Ezekiel" (47). Because of this commitment to a "permanent theological 
message" (355), Block seems, at times, reluctant to engage in dispute or even in 
conversation with Ezekiel. When Ezekiel seems too strange or offers excessively 
violent imagery. Block seeks, rather than to offer resistance, to explain why we ought 
not consider the language offensive. Although it is clear that "No one presses the 
margins of literary propriety as severely as Ezekiel" (466), there seems often to be an 
explanation that softens the severity. Three examples follow that illustrate the 
complexity and the ambiguity inherent in wrestling with Ezekiel's troubling texts. 

First, the commentary on 4:1-5:17 notes that we may be "offended by the sheer 
terror of Yahweh's pronouncements," and then suggests that we not allow our reactions 
to "detract from the profoundly theological nature of the message" (216). The value of 
shocking the audience has been blunted. 

Second, in the Excursus on "The Offense of Ezekiel's Gospel" (467) Block 
examines and explains the objectionable images of sexual violence in chapter 16. 
Defending Ezekiel against all charges of inappropriate language and violent imagery. 
Block suggests we not impose "anachronistic agendas arising out of alien cultural 
contexts" (469). Rather, it is "The intensity of the divine passion [that] determined the 

102 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

unique and often shocking style of the prophet" (470). In the "Theological Implications" 
that follow (520-22), Block allows for no arrogance or smugness in those who claim to 
be people of God today. The equivalent "shock value" today is not, however, suggested. 
Could we not imagine the story in reverse? God's people are the abusive or unreliable 
and absent father. 

Third, the "Theological Implications" of chapter 23 helpfully notes that the people 
of God are "vulnerable to the seductive appeal of other allegiances" (764). But these 
implications do not at the same time address the problem of militarism as Israel's root 
problem. The text becomes an occasion, instead, for noting the destructiveness of 
marital infidelity. 

A commentary as massive as this one that advocates profoundly at every turn/or 
Ezekiel and his God, and against our own biases, complicity with evil, and idolatries, 
deserves our deepest respect. Although the commentary will be most useful for those 
who know Hebrew, its riches are not at all inaccessible to the reader who is looking for 
consistent theological reflection on one of the most difficult of Biblical books. 

Gordon H. Matties, Concord College, Winnipeg 



Clements, Ronald E., Ezekiel [WBC] Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press 1996 

Lind, Millard C, Ezekiel [Believers Church Bible Commentary] Scottdale, Pa: Herald 
Press 1996 

Block, Daniel I., The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 25-48, [NICOT] Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans 1998 

There has been a good crop of commentaries on Ezekiel in the last four years and 
it has been an interesting experience to read these three together. Clements has produced 
an excellent contribution to the Westminster Bible Companion series which is 
committed to stimulating faithful Christian living based on a sound grasp of the message 
of the text for its original historical readers and for today. Following a brief introduction 
which sums up Ezekiel' s message in a nutshell and gives a brief indication of his times, 
the main sections of the book are introduced with an overview and then subdivided into 
sensible passages for reading each day, or each week. The NRSV text is given 
selectively followed by an explanatory description of flow of the main message and 
discussion of points which are difficult for readers today. Occasionally the writer waxes 
lyrical e.g. on the final battle against evil in chapter 38 he writes, 'It challenges an belief 
in the inevitability of progress in human government and world order. Evil cannot easily 
and readily be wrung from the fabric of human folly. There can be no gradual squeezing 
out of the sin-soaked garments of history.' 

Lind writes concisely but gives more attention to explaining his understanding of 
the structure of the book and its several parts. His analysis is based on the language of 
the text and for the most part is convincing. In keeping with the format of the series to 
which this book belongs each major section is introduced by an overview. The passages 
within each section are treated to a preview, an outline [analysis], explanatory notes on 
the details of each part of the outline, then comments on the text in its Biblical context 

103 



Book Reviews 

and the text in the Hfe of the church. The last of these is principally the life of the 
Anabaptists or Mennonites. The strength of this commentary is both the analysis and the 
succinct discussion of key words in the text. At the end of the book is a collection of 
brief essays on frequently recurring motifs and helpful notes, two maps, three diagrams 
and a quite extensive bibliography. 

Block's is the second volume of his magisterial commentary on this prophetic 
book. In some respects he combines the virtues of Clements and Lind but adds much 
more. Block too is preoccupied with the structure and literary shape of each passage and 
its contribution to the purpose and overall message of the book. The treatment of each 
section is in two unequal parts. The major part is called 'Nature and Design' and the 
minor part, 'Theological Implications'. This does not always work out quite as well as 
it might for, unlike Lind, who employs his analytical tools consistently. Block has 
discussions of 'Nature and Design' for chapters within the larger sections and nothing 
on the theological implications at some points where such reflection might be expected. 
At the same time the discussion of individual units is very thorough, setting out 
alternative views and the evidence for them without losing the sense of where the 
argument is going. In both the text and the footnotes he interacts with an impressive 
range of scholarship. He has excellent discussions of difficult topics such as the failure 
of Ezekiel's prophecy against Tyre and he supplements the commentary with five 
excursi: on the infusion of the Spirit, the background and implications of the vision of 
dry bones for ideas of resurrection and afterlife, on Gog in Jewish and Christian writings 
and the life-giving river. He finds ways of integrating chapters 40 - 48 with themes 
treated earlier in the book. Useful information is summarised in charts, tables, diagrams 
and maps. Undoubtedly this, together with his first volume, will be the commentary with 
which scholars will interact for the foreseeable future both on questions of structure and 
matters of detail. 

For encouraging study of Ezekiel in church groups, Clements is superb. Only 
rarely will his critical inclinations ruffle the faithful. For students Lind provides an 
excellent way to grasp the structure of the text and a challenging commentary for 
today's world from his Mennonite perpsective. For scholarly study Block is invaluable. 

Arthur Rowe, Spurgeon's College, London 



Clifford, Richard J. Proverbs. OTL. Louisville, KY: Westminster, 1999. 286pp. 

Primary contributions of Clifford's commentary are fourfold. The first three 
pertain to the introduction. First, a reader unfamiliar with wisdom of the Ancient Near 
East will find in his introduction a helpful sampling drawn from Mesopotamian and 
Egyptian sources (pp. 8-19). The context provided by such a background enables us to 
picture the broader world of ancient wisdom, rather than treating sapiential material of 
the Bible as somehow isolated and unique. Second, his treatment of personified 
Wisdom and her rival, while acknowledging reminiscences with ANE literature, allows 
the Hebrew sage freedom to design and employ this device with rich breadth for 
purposes unique to an Israeli setting (pp. 23-28). Since she occupies such a significant 
place in Proverbs, judicious interpretation of her origin and role is vital. Third is 
Clifford's discussion of the Hebrew text and versions — a brief but useful summary 

104 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

reflecting on the relative value of Qumran, Septuagint, Peshitta, Targum, and Vulgate 
(pp. 28-30). 

Apart from the introductory essays, the commentary itself reads well. It is not 
bogged down by attempts to press metrical form into every verse. Appeal to Hebrew 
recurs like seasoning, rendering the volume valuable for novice and specialist alike. 
Amenemope parallels are offered in chs. 22-24 so that the reader may draw his/her own 
conclusions. One could wish only that out of his mastery of the material Clifford might 
have added still more observations concerning surface structures which contribute to 
rhetorical power within Proverbs. Perhaps another will contribute to this aspect of 
sapiential study. Paul Overland 



Tremper Longman, III, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The 
Book of Ecclesiastes. Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 
1998, xvi -h 306 pp., $35.00. 

This commentary on Ecclesiastes is part of the New International Commentary 
on the Old Testament series. For the most part it is a scholarly work, giving adequate 
attention to matters of philology, literary style, and theological message, without being 
pedantic. 

The book begins with an exhaustive introduction exploring such background 
matters as authorship, language, genre, structure, literary style, and the theological 
message of the writing. He argues that Solomon is not the author, but rather a later 
personality adopting a Solomonic persona. This author is identified as Qoholet in 
Hebrew, or Ecclesiastes in Greek, meaning "assembler" or "one who assembles." 
Longman explores authorship by drawing on Rabbinic literature, Near Eastern literary 
texts, and the rest of wisdom literature as a whole. 

The language of Ecclesiastes is presented as having Aramaic influence. 
Consideration is also given to Persian and Greek influence, all of which is important in 
determining dating. Longman does not find any of the arguments compelling enough 
to be certain about its origin. 

Generally speaking, most scholars conclude that the genre of Ecclesiastes is hard 
to define, and that it does not have one single genre. In contrast to this, Longman 
suggests it is a "framed wisdom autobiography." In drawing this conclusion, he makes 
comparisons with Augustine's Confessions, the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic, 
the Sargon Birth Legend, and numerous Akkadian works labeled as "fictional 
autobiographies." 

The structure of Ecclesiastes is presented as being in three parts: 1 . A short 
prologue, introducing some of the themes of Qoholet' s thought (1:1-11); 2. a long 
monologue by Qoholet (1 : 12-12:7); and 3. a brief epilogue (12:8- 14). The prologue and 
epilogue are differentiated from the body of the book by their third person references 
to the author. However, within this broad tripart structure, Longman does not find a 
"clear and obvious structure." 

The literary style of Ecclesiastes is presented as "difficult to describe." It is said 
to contain both poetry and prose, with the lines between the two often being blurred. 
He cites the discrepancies in translation employed by the NRSV and NIV, with the 

105 



Book Reviews 

NRSV team translating more prosaically and the NIV more poetically, formatting much 
of the book in parallel lines. Longman sides with the NRSV, and accuses the translators 
of the NIV of over-poeticizing the text. He briefly explores such issues as Hebrew 
parallelism and proverbial construction. 

Longman presents a very strong view of the canonicity of the book of 
Ecclesiastes. By comparing the writing with both Old and New Testament theology, he 
presents it as a work that speaks with authority to antiquity as well as to the present day, 
suggesting its greatest contribution perhaps being its capacity to "vividly capture the 
despair of a world without God" (p. 40). 

Throughout the body of the main commentary, Longman offers his own 
refreshing translation of each chapter, supporting his views with Rabbinic literature, 
philological examination, and the best of available resources. Longman's thorough 
examination of this somewhat cryptic book is both compelling and interesting, and 
useful for both scholarly and devotional reflection. Glen Robitaille, Ashland, OH 



David Alan Black, // 's Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate 
Greek. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998. 192 pp. $14.99. 

A noted expert in New Testament Greek with a heart for its use in effective 
preaching and ministry, D. A. Black has provided a winsomely written review of Greek 
(and English!) grammar. The grammar of Greek nouns, verbs, and other forms, together 
with the syntax of Greek clauses, is presented in a well-organized manner, replete with 
examples, practice exercises (with an answer key in the back), and suggestions for 
further study at the end of each chapter, directing the user to the standard Greek 
reference works. A postscript provides directions for ongoing growth in facility in 
Greek and in the application of one's growing knowledge of Greek to ministerial tasks. 

This book is only "intermediate" at a few places, for example the fine survey of 
the specialized uses of Greek noun cases. I would therefore highly recommend this 
book to students currently studying Greek as a good-humored and clear supplement to 
any standard textbook, particularly if one's grasp of grammatical terminology needs 
refreshing, and to those seeking consolidation of the Greek they learned in an 
introductory Greek class. David A. deSilva 



Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett (editors), The Complete Text of the Earliest New 
Testament Manuscripts. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1999. 652 pp. $49.95. 

The textual variants listed at the bottom of the critical Greek New Testaments, 
reduced there data for a scholarly enterprise, now come alive as our earliest samples of 
Christian Scriptures. Thanks to the diligent efforts of Comfort and Barrett, the complete 
texts of fifty-five papyri and five early uncials, all dating from the third century AD and 
before, are now available to a broad (Greek-reading) audience. These manuscripts have 
been faithfully transcribed, down to the preservation of the abbreviations used by the 
scribes (which are explained in the introduction), the actual line and page breaks, the 
placement of "iota subscripts" on the line, and the absence of editorial breathing marks, 

106 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

accents, and punctuation. Footnotes provide information about the corrections made to 
the manuscript either by the copyist, a proofreader, or later users. Any reconstructions 
offered by Comfort and Barrett to fill in damaged portions of the papyri are bracketed. 
Each manuscript is prefaced with a critical introduction concerning its dating and 
provenance as well as any notable peculiarities or proclivities of its scribe (for example, 
whether or not he was a Christian interested in harmonizing one gospel with another, 
and the like). The introductions to major papyri like P46, P66, and P75 are especially 
fine. The reader thus has access to an astounding collection of ancient manuscripts of 
the New Testament without the expenditures of travel to the various museums where 
they are housed. The editors have provided two tables of contents: the first enables one 
to find a given manuscript by its standard abbreviation, the second enables one to look 
up New Testament passages attested in the manuscripts. They have also included rather 
legible photographs of a page from most of the manuscripts they have transcribed. 

Many of these papyri were discovered in the sands of Egypt beginning in 1898 
as part of the excavations in the trash piles of Oxyrynchus, which provided a cache of 
thousands of literary and non-literary texts (e.g., bills of sale, inventory lists, and the 
like). Others were purchased from Egyptian antiquities dealers during the twentieth 
century. Their importance for textual criticism became immediately apparent, since 
these papyri pre-date the major uncials (Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus) by two 
to three centuries. In the case of P46 and P66, for example, we find copies of portions 
of the New Testament dating from about 150 AD, bringing us to within 100 years of the 
autograph. The manuscripts included range in length from three lines (PI 2, containing 
part of Heb 1 : 1 written on the comer of a personal letter) to 1 72 manuscript pages (P46, 
the Pauline corpus from Romans to 1 Thessalonians, with Hebrews placed after 
Romans). 

The main benefit of this volume is not, I would suggest, providing grist for the 
mills of amateur textual critics. Rather, it provides a companion volume to our critical 
Greek New Testaments (the UBS and the Nestle-Aland). The latter are eclectic 
reconstructions, a composite derived from countless sources: the texts in Comfort and 
Barrett's volume provide for us actual texts read as "Scripture" in Christian communities 
in Egypt during the second and third centuries. The volume moves us beyond interest 
in "reconstructing" the autographs toward studying the Christian Scriptures as they were 
read and interpreted in communities of faith in those early, highly formative centuries. 
The tendencies of the copyists can be seen not as perversions of the text (though, of 
course, from the standpoint of the textual critical task they are), but as windows into the 
early Christians' presuppositions about their Scriptures and into early Christian 
interpretation of its message. Those with a growing facility in Greek will, of course, 
gain the greatest benefit from this volume, being able to read the manuscripts themselves 
and experience "Romans" or "John" as they were read by brothers and sisters in 2"''- 
century Egypt; those without such facility, however, will still find in this volume 
perhaps the best introduction to the individual manuscripts and their character, as well 
as to the scribal practices used in the early transmission of our New Testament. 

David A. deSilva 



107 



Book Reviews 

N. Clayton Croy, A Primer of Biblical Greek. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 
1999. pp. xviii + 264. $18.00 (paper). 

In a market glutted with introductory Greek textbooks, Croy's new volume 
distinguishes itself above the rest. Written out of years of experience teaching Greek, 
this book provides a clear, solid, and pedagogically astute contribution to the language 
classroom. 

Some recent textbooks overwhelm the student with too much information about 
(sometimes rather contrived) underlying linguistic patterns or historical development of 
morphological forms. In an attempt to make Greek approachable and friendly, many 
other textbooks oversimplify the language and end up "dumbing down" Greek. Croy's 
steers a middle course between this Scylla and that Charybdis, offering concise yet clear 
and reliable introductions to the grammar and syntax of Greek. Especially to be 
commended is his careful nuancing of the significance of the Aorist tense in each of the 
Greek moods (indicative, imperative, etc.) — something that many popular-level Greek 
textbooks and reference works tend to present incorrectly as inherently "simple action 
in the past." Also noteworthy is his presentation of the participle. Considered by all 
teachers of Greek with which I have had contact as the chief hurdle in learning Greek, 
the participle is here presented quite clearly and explained quite fully. Teachers will 
find the order of presentation to be quite natural. 

Each lesson is introduced by a vocabulary list for memorization, after which 
comes the discussion of the new grammar with appropriate paradigms and examples. 
A main strength of this textbook is the variety and abundance of exercises Croy has 
composed and assembled. Every chapter has a set of ten to fourteen "artificial" Greek 
sentences composed by Croy, providing practice in the new grammatical concepts 
introduced (together, of course, with the cumulative grammar encountered), eight to 
twelve sentences taken from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), 
and eight to twelve sentences from the New Testament. The biblical sentences are 
accompanied by a vocabulary list at the end of every chapter, so that these exercises 
provide an inductive dimension to the course (the student is translating imperatives or 
participles in these exercises before the formal presentation). Finally, Croy provides 
four or five English sentences at the end of each lesson to be rendered into Greek. 
Working in both directions is a long-standing and effective way of internalizing the 
logic of the language and thinking through the significations of cases, tenses, and the 
like. 

This feature raises Croy's volume above those rival texts that have similarly well- 
balanced presentations of the grammar, but an insufficient number of exercises to 
provide the students with the essential practice or exercises that are drawn strictly from 
the New Testament (and strictly Greek-to-English). The student who completes 
exercises from each group leaves the course aware and unafraid of the Septuagint, which 
is a great benefit for their own study of the New Testament and early church, as well as 
equipped and motivated to continue reading both in the Septuagint and New Testament. 

Forty pages of paradigms, complete lists of Greek-to-English and English-to- 
Greek vocabulary, and a guide to further study and useful reference works complete the 
textbook. This back matter provides the student with essential tools for review during 



108 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

the course and for ongoing work in Greek reading, as well as with pointers for ongoing 
learning. 

No Greek textbook will match perfectly the objectives of the professor (unless he 
or she is the author of his or her own textbook). Would that the author had included a 
fuller presentation of the optative mood! Nevertheless, I find his assessment of what 
needs to be included in an introductory Greek course to be accurate and judicious, and 
commend the work to teachers of Greek for its unique contributions to the preparation 
of biblical scholars and ministers of the Word. David A. deSilva 



J.K. Elliott, A Bibliography of Greek New Testament Manuscripts, 2"'' ed.. (SNTSMS 
109; Cambridge: CUP, 2000). hb. 

This revised version almost doubles the amount of information contained in the 
first edition of 1989 and offers an indispensable guide to work done on individual 
manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. Elliott does not offer us any information 
about the manuscripts themselves (K. Aland, Kurzgefasste Liste, 1994 offers that), nor 
is this book interested in particular variant readings supported by a manuscript. What 
this book does contain is a list of the first publication of a manuscript (the editio 
princeps) and 'details of articles, studies and collations of these manuscripts, including 
those dealing with text, illustrations and palaeography' (plates of manuscripts are also 
noted). 

We might begin with the growth evident in this second edition. In terms of 
papyri, the 1989 edition took the list to P95, the new edition takes us to PI 15. In terms 
of uncials, not only do we have an increase from 0277 up to 0309, but Elliott has also 
decided on "Majuscules" as the general title. Similarly, while the 1989 edition took the 
list up to 2790 "cursives," the new edition has opted for "miniscules," and stops at 282. 
The lectionary list in the first edition went to /2280 (with huge blank spaces where no 
studies were noted), the new edition goes to /2412 and has identified numerous studies 
(both old and new). Overall we have grown from 210 spaciously laid out pages, to 287 
much more closely packed pages. Some of the growth, and the reason for the second 
edition, is clearly the ever-increasing number of new manuscripts which have been 
discovered. Another reason is clearly a filling in of gaps in the knowledge of the 
literature at the time of the first edition. 

In terms of content it is difficult to evaluate a bibliography like this. I thought of 
two simple tests. How did the new edition compare on items I had marked in my copy 
of the first edition? And did the new edition notice two studies that I had written in the 
years between the editions? On the first test Elliott has scored 100% in the papyri, and 
missed only two items in the majescules (029 add Amelineau, Notice, pp. 404-407 for 
description and transcription of the Paris portions; 0246 add Greenlee, Nine Uncial 
Palimpsests, 122-127, with 2 plates). On the second test Elliott scored one out of two 
(not including Head and Warren on P13, NTS 43 [1997] 466-473). 

These are patently unscientific tests, but nevertheless suggest that we should not 
expect this to be a completely exhaustive bibliography. This is, in any case, never 
claimed and a separate volume could probably be produced on the papyri alone. While 
it may not be exhaustive, it is however quite extensive. If you come across a 

109 



Book Reviews 

manuscript, in a printed edition, a monastery, a library; then you will generally find 
something in this bibliography with which to begin any investigative work done on that 
manuscript. As far as I could determine, Elliott has provided enough information to find 
the item you are after, or, as is perhaps more likely considering the range of material 
listed here, sufficient detail is given to enable an inter-library loan to be ordered. 

In conclusion, this work in its revised second edition further improves an 
indispensable reference book which fills a massive gap in New Testament scholarship 
and helps reveal other gaps to textual critics and librarians. We congratulate the 
compiler. His Bibliography is much to be welcomed and should find a home in an 
excellent theological library. Peter M. Head, Cambridge 



John R. Kohlenberger III, The Greek New Testament. UBS4 with NRSV & NIV. Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1993. 

Two of the most important modem translations, the New Revised Standard 
Version and the New International Version, stand side-by-side with the critical text of 
the Greek New Testament as published by the united Bible Societies. The critical 
apparatus in the Greek text (i.e., textual variant information and references to Old 
Testament citations or allusions) has been removed in favor of footnotes that provide the 
Greek text standing behind the variants noted in the NRSV and NIV footnotes. That is, 
where the NRSV note says "other ancient authorities add..." or "omit...," the new notes 
to the Greek text supply the variant noted by the NRSV. 

The volume is very useful as a tool that allows the reader easily to compare these 
two English translations with one another and with the Greek text. By diligent 
comparison, the reader will be able to explore the reasons for the divergences in the 
translations, discover options not chosen by either translation, and even critique these 
translations for bringing meanings into the text not easily justified by the Greek. The 
bok provides automatic safeguards, therefore, against confusing any single translation 
(however excellent) with the final "Word." 

While one can readily understand why the full apparatus of the critical Greek text 
was not imported into this volume, it does thereby limit the usefulness of this book. If 
a student wants to do serious work in textual criticism, or to evaluate the merit of the 
few variants noted in the footnotes here, he or she will still need to consult the critical 
editions or Bruce Metzger' s Textual Commentary on the New Testament. Additionally, 
the loss of cross-references to Old Testament texts cited or alluded to in the New 
Testament (aside from the NIV s footnotes, which do cite explicit quotations) will make 
this volume less useful for investigations of the intertexture between the testaments. 

David A. deSilva 



Bruce M. Metzger, Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek, Grand Rapids: 
Baker Books, 1998, xi -t- 100 pp. $9.99. 

These lexical resources for the study of New Testament Greek vocabulary by a 
giant in the field of textual criticism, lexicography, and canonical history have been 

110 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

available to students since 1946, having undergone significant revisions in 1955 and 
1969. Until now, this book has been published, in essence, privately by Dr. Metzger. 
Now Baker Books has included the title in its catalog, making this proven volume more 
readily accessible to a wide academic audience. 

The first part of the book presents lists of words classified according to the 
frequency in the New Testament, from words occurring 500 times or more to words 
occurring ten times in the NT. The aim of these lists is to provide students of NT Greek 
with basic English equivalences of the more common Greek words so as to facilitate 
actual reading of the NT by minimizing trips to a lexicon. The second part provides a 
set of words grouped according to their root (e.g., the family of words built on the root 
TTiOT- are presented together). This is, of course, a very useful way to reinforce 
students' memorization of vocabulary, provided one avoids the danger of slipping over 
from the concept of word group into performing word studies according to the 
"exegetical fallacy" method. Metzger includes a helpful discussion on the formation of 
words in Greek (e.g., the alpha-privative, the meanings of various suffixes, the formation 
of words from compound roots, and the like). 

Finally, a series of appendices offer varied helps. There is a rather comprehensive 
table of Indo-European languages, which concludes with a more helpful discussion of 
Greek-English cognates. Appendix II provides a visual aid for understanding 
prepositions and a discussion of the meaning of prepositions when used as prefixes for 
verbs. A table of correlative adverbs and pronouns follows, extremely helpful as a guide 
for a rather difficuly set of words to keep distinct in one's head. The most useful 
resource is Appendix IV, the chart of principal parts of irregular verbs. Finally, Metzger 
provides a list of feminine nouns of the second declension and nouns which are 
sometimes feminine, sometimes masculine. 

This remains an indispensable aid for beginning Greek students, strongly 
recommended as a supplement to a standard Greek grammar for any introductory-level 
seminary course in Biblical Greek. Once students have facility with reading Greek, 
however, they will want to begin to probe the information available in the great lexica 
on the full range of meanings of these words (Louw-Nida; Liddell-Scott; Bauer- Amdt- 
Gingrich-Danker). For example, the one-word translation of xapi<; as "grace" will work 
where the aim is translating a Greek passage as a homework exercise in beginning 
Greek; for exegesis one will need to immerse oneself in richer discussions of the lexical 
ranges and cultural contexts of the term. David A. deSilva 



Cleon L. Rogers Jr., and Cleon L. Rogers III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key 
to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998, pp. xl + 652, $39.99. 

This volume, a fully updated version of The Linguistic Key to the New Testament, 
offers both the benefits and pitfalls of any work of its kind. On the positive side, the 
authors have painstakingly and carefully provided the parsing of the majority of words 
in the New Testament, as well as basic English equivalents of these words (together with 
the numerical entry of the word in The NIV Exhaustive Concordance by Goodrick and 
Kohlenberger). They have also attempted to give guidance to the student with regard 
to how the grammatical categories should be understood in a particular instance (e.g.. 

Ill 



Book Reviews 

when a genitive should be taken as a "genitive of description" or an adverbial participle 
as "causal" rather than "temporal"), as well as to set certain terms in their philosophical 
or cultural context. Their comments in this regard are frequently excellent, certain to 
lead the student down useful avenues of interpretation. A third level of help involves the 
citation within many verses of relevant scholarly literature (a selection showing 
excellent breadth, one should add) for further investigation or deeper discussion. In 
compiling such an aid to reading the New Testament in Greek, the authors are heartily 
to be commended, as is their book. 

The pitfalls? Students may be tempted to believe everything they read as 
"conclusive" or somehow truly representative of the face of scholarship. At many 
points, however, the authors' comments or exegetical choices are suspect: the tool is a 
great aid, as long as the user treats those comments with suspicion and goes the extra 
mile to test them. For example, when the authors write concerning the word apokalypsis 
at Rev 1:1 that "the word is often used to describe a type of Jewish lit[erature] of the 
first century B. C, which arose under persecution. It used many symbols and was 
published under the name of an important OT person" (610), the reader should be 
advised that a group of scholars working together arrived at a much more careful, 
nuanced, and helpful definition of apocalyptic literature, and consult the more recent 
reference works on the topic listed by the authors, who remain, however, sadly 
uninfluenced by these investigations. In the notes on Rom 3:23, the phrase dia pisteos 
lesou Christou receives this comment: "'through faith in Jesus Christ' . Gen[itive] is best 
understood as obj[ective] gen[itive], rather than subjective gen[itive], 'the faithfulness 
of Jesus Christ' (Moo; Dunn; GGBB, 114-115)." The wise student will go to the 
discussions in Moo and Dunn to which the authors refer, and indeed to the host of 
literature on this vexed crux interpretum, rather than trust the authors' evaluation of 
which is better (for many evangelical scholars would argue vociferously that they have 
made an infelicitous choice). In the treatment of Heb 6:6, the authors correctly identify 
the participles "crucifying the Son of God again and holding him up to public shame" 
as the reason why repentance for the apostate is "impossible," but then go on to explain 
that second repentance would be impossible because it would require a second 
crucifixion of Jesus. This is, however, a suspect reading, since the participles give every 
indication (through grammatical agreement) of describing the circumstances which 
accompany "falling away" (in which case it is the gross insult offered to Jesus by the 
apostate which renders a return to favor "impossible"). 

These three examples are lifted up merely as a caution to the user of this basically 
commendable guide. "Test everything, hold fast to what is good" among the comments 
and exegetical judgements offered by the authors. No reference guide should be treated 
as a one-volume shortcut to exegesis. If the volume is used as a starting place only, 
leading the student to do her or his own homework on whether or not a certain dative 
or subjunctive should be taken one way rather than another as well as to dig around in 
more detailed lexicons, it will be a valuable vade mecum indeed. I personally would 
have found the Key more helpful if the authors didn't attempt to give a ruling on the 
more difficult exegetical questions, presenting rather the leading options and 
bibliographic entries to which to turn for both or all sides of the question. Nevertheless, 
the authors have done especially the beginning Greek reader a great service (and indeed 
it is a task which can only be taken up with the heart of a servant), and their work will 

112 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

be an important companion in those first years of using Greek for bible study and 
sermon preparation. David A. deSilva 



Richard Longenecker, ed., Life in the Face of Death. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998. 

This is the third in the McMaster New Testament Studies series; a series designed 
to address particular themes in the New Testament that are of crucial concern to 
Christians today. This volume admirably fulfils this brief. The resurrection of Jesus 
from the dead is at the very heart of the Christian faith and this fine collection addresses 
the resurrection from a number of different points of view. 

It begins with three essays dealing with the historical and social background to 
life and death in the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman world and second temple 
Judaism. Each of these essays provides fascinating and informative reading against 
which to read the New Testament message. 

The rest of the book then examines the New Testament teaching under three broad 
headings: the Gospels, Paul and the early church. The synoptics are dealt with as a bloc 
while John is the subject of a fine study by Andrew Lincoln. It was particularly pleasing 
to see this essay written from a narrative critical perspective and numerous connections 
established between the theme of the resurrection and other main themes of the Gospel 
according to John. 

The section on Paul addresses the subject of resurrection and immortality, the 
question of development in Paul's thinking about the resurrection and the connection 
between the resurrection and the Christian life in Paul's thought. 

The final section of the book examines the teaching about the resurrection in Acts, 
Hebrews and the Apocalypse. 

As the above survey show the volume is comprehensive in its scope. It is a 
volume that is 'food for the soul' as well as the mind as the impact of the resurrection 
message of the New Testament is carefully unfolded against the background established 
by the historical studies. The focus is on the implications of the resurrection message 
in the New Testament documents. The central importance of this event is clearly 
established and its implications for Christian Life well expounded. 

This would be an excellent resource for a preaching series on the resurrection and 
its significance. 

Perhaps the volume could have been enhanced with a brief essay detailing the 
evidence for the resurrection as an historical event. While there are many volumes that 
do this and this is the clear presupposition of the volume, a clear statement of such a 
position would appear to be in order in a day and age when the historicity of the event 
itself remains under attack. Bill Salier, Cambridge, United Kingdom 



Rainer Riesner, Paul's Early Period: Chronology, Mission Strategy and Theology, 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998, xvi + 535 pp, $50.00/£33.99. 

Paul's Early Period is a translation, with only minor corrections, of the 1994 
original publication. Die Friihzeit des Apostels Paulus (Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr). In this 

113 



Book Reviews 

lengthy monograph, Riesner combines a characteristically Teutonic thoroughness and 
attention to detail, with a refreshing absence of any continental theology of suspicion. 

Taking as its opening premise '[t]he history of early Christianity and the 
development of its theological convictions are inseparably connected', Riesner 
undertakes a detailed assessment of the chronology of the early years of Paul's Christian 
mission. 

Riesner suggests that the popular stance that Paul's letters represent primary 
source material and the Acts data represent secondary source material is too simplistic. 
It should not be overlooked that the autobiographical elements in Paul's correspondence 
may occasionally be biased or include gaps; and some of the Acts material may actually 
provide us with first-hand primary source material. It emerges that dependence on the 
Pauline letters alone provides no firm chronological datum, whereas the Acts 
framework, and especially the 'we-passages' (which are consistent with Lukan 
authorship) prove to be remarkably useful in this regard. The value of Luke's material 
is enhanced when the author provides additional elements of secular historical 
information which can be incorporated into the overall chronology; and made yet more 
sophisticated when approximate details of travel times are included in the overview. 
There are clearly gaps in the Acts account, notably where elements are omitted in the 
interests of idealization; but this does not force us to draw the conclusion that Luke 
consequently chose to 'make up' the evidence. Once a critical Acts chronology is 
developed, it emerges that this is not inconsistent with the very limited information 
which can be derived from the Pauline corpus. In this regard, particular attention is 
given to Paul's mission to and correspondence with those in Thessalonica. 

Riesner incorporates into his debate early church traditional material, later New 
Testament scholarship, and recent advances in ancient historical and scientific evidence. 
This wide-range of primary and secondary sources is substantiated by 115 pages of 
bibliography and indexes. These tools are significantly let down, however, by the very 
partial index of authors which spans little more than four pages, rarely notes those 
scholars who are relegated to footnotes, and consequently does little to reflect the degree 
and extent of those footnotes or assist the reader who wishes to evaluate Riesner' s 
assessment of a range of cited scholars. 

At a time when the book of Acts has seen a significant revival in scholarly 
interest, the availability of this extensive piece of research, now in translation, will be 
of considerable value to a wider pool of Lukan and Pauline scholars. 

Andrew D. Clarke, University of Aberdeen 



Giinter Wagner, ed.. An Exegetical Bibliography of the New Testament: Romans and 
Galatians. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1996. Xiv + 379 pp. n.p. 

Literature on the New Testament has mushroomed exponentially, so that it is now 
impossible, and even an unwise use of time, to read everything that is written on a 
particular subject. It is becoming increasingly difficult even to read what is written on 
a single letter, such as Romans. And anyone who has worked on a commentary knows 
that there is much repetition in the work of scholars. Those of us who do research are 
grateful to Giinter Wagner whose earlier series Bibliographical Aids assisted scholars 

114 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

in conducting research. In 1981 a second series was begun, and volumes on Matthew 
and Mark (1983), Luke and Acts (1985), John and the Johannine letters (1987) have 
appeared thus far. Now the volume on Galatians and Romans has gone to press, and 
Wagner informs us that the delay is fortuitous since it enabled him to include recent 
research on Paul. Indeed, since the publication of E.P. Sanders' Paul and Palestinian 
Judaism (1971) articles and books on Paul's understanding of the law and Judaism have 
been a virtual torrent. The new evaluation of Paul is especially significant in Romans 
and Galatians, and much of that work is contained in the present work. Nonetheless, all 
bibliographies are destined to be dated, and Wagner includes items which were 
published through 1994. Readers should note that the book was published in 1996, and 
so the cut-off date is understandable. 

I sampled the bibliography at various places and found its coverage to be 
excellent. Obviously, no bibliography will catch everything, but it would be churlish 
to expect perfection when the task is so overwhelming. Wagner's work is especially 
helpful in indicating where a particular text is discussed in books. Many bibliographies 
list relevant articles and commentaries, but listing where books discuss a particular text 
is a work of supererogation. Recording such information is painstaking work and would 
induce some of us to insanity! We can be grateful for the labor of Wagner and his 
coworkers in this task. Exegesis does not occur in a historical or contemporary vacuum, 
and it is hoped that the bibliography contained here will enable scholars to interpret the 
New Testament more rigorously and faithfully. 

Thomas R. Schreiner, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 



David A. deSilva, The Hope of Glory. Honor Discourse and New Testament 
Interpretation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999. 

A major development in biblical interpretation over the last few decades has been 
the arrival of analytical methods from other fields of study. Like immigrants landing 
at Ellis Island they come from diverse lands: anthropology, gender studies, linguistics, 
literary criticism, psychology, rhetoric, sociology, etc. They arrive with remnants of 
their previous habitats, various practices and perspectives, and thereby change their new 
environment. 

This review examines a significant new book that employs one of those recent 
arrivals: honor/shame analysis. Honor and shame are fundamentally anthropological 
categories, but their use in interpreting ancient texts is closely related to both rhetorical 
and sociological dynamics. Through appeals to honor and shame, authors hope to 
persuade their readers to act in certain ways (a rhetorical aim), usually with a view to 
strengthening or weakening connections with certain groups of persons (a sociological 
effect). This convergence of methods is evident in The Hope of Glory by David A. 
deSilva. 

The book has seven major chapters and a brief conclusion. The first chapter 
establishes the importance of honor and shame as cultural values in the first century 
Mediterranean world. Although there is generalization and perhaps overstatement in 
saying that a person from this era, "...whether Gentile or Jew, was trained from 
childhood to desire honor and avoid disgrace" and was "oriented from birth toward 

115 



Book Reviews 

seeking the approval of the significant others" (p. 2, 3), the significance of honor and 
shame as motivators of behavior cannot be denied. A major concept defined in this 
chapter is the "court of reputation," that group of persons who grant honor or dispense 
blame. The critical question for ethnic or religious subcultures, such as first century 
Jews and Christians, is who will constitute this court. 

The major achievement of this chapter is a sort of phenomenology of honor/shame 
discourse. DeSilva answers the basic question, how do we know honor/shame discourse 
when we see it? Moving beyond the mere listing of vocabulary, deSilva discusses the 
kinds and sources of honor, the role of honor in patron-client relationships, the 
importance of one's name and body in representations of honor, and the role of gender. 
Finally, deSilva relates honor and shame to rhetoric, particularly to the threefold means 
of persuasion: logos (rational appeals), ethos (stressing the credibility of the speaker), 
and pathos ("emotional" appeals). 

In chapter two deSilva examines honor discourse in the Gospel of Matthew. In 
contrast to some interpreters who apply the canons of ancient rhetoric casually and 
indiscriminately to all genres of ancient texts, deSilva acknowledges the difficulty of 
rhetorical analysis of gospel material, i.e. narrative. Proceeding cautiously, however, 
he shows how the character of Jesus is effectively an indirect ethos argument. By his 
origin (virginal conception), his acts (healings and exorcisms), his death (an ostensibly 
dishonorable event that is reinterpreted), and his resurrection (vindication of Jesus' 
honor by God), Matthew upholds Jesus as the model of a God-honoring life. 

Chapter three involves a similar treatment of the Gospel of John. Jesus' origin, 
expressed in the magnificent Johannine prologue, indicates his honorable status. 
Likewise, the miraculous signs in John signify Jesus' honor. The well-known emphasis 
in the fourth gospel on the voluntary nature of Jesus' death ("I lay down my life for the 
sheep." 10: 15) reveals the nobility of that event. 

In chapter fourdeSilva turns to epistolary material: 1 and 2 Thessalonians. These 
letters are read in the light of the thriving religious life of the city of Thessalonica, 
especially the cult of the emperor and traditional Greco-Roman religion. DeSilva sees 
Paul's aims as by no means limited to the widely recognized issues of his own 
credibility and of eschatology. Rather, these epistles "are chiefly concerned to establish 
the new believers' commitment to the alternative culture of Christianity," "to counteract 
the power of... attempts by the dominant culture to reclaim its deviant members." (pp. 
91, 94, my emphasis) I found this chapter less persuasive than the others. The issues 
of Paul's credibility (1 Thess 2) and questions about the second coming (1 Thess 4-5; 
2 Thess) loom large in these letters. While this correspondence perhaps can be seen as 
a social engineering strategy to "negate the effects of being shamed by outsiders" (p. 
94), the method here seems to privilege social engineering over theological and pastoral 
concerns. DeSilva is not necessarily creating honor/shame phenomena ex nihilo, but he 
may elevate them disproportionately. 

The next chapter investigates the Corinthian epistles. Social-scientific 
analysis of this correspondence has demonstrated the socio-economic stratification of 
the church there. Thus the problem of factionalism at Corinth, the tension between the 
"strong" and the "weak," problems at the Lord's Supper, and the divisive use of spiritual 
gifts all reflect the negative aspects of a culture obsessed with honor. Paul, of course, 



116 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

would say obsessed with wrong definitions of honor. Specific texts in both epistles are 
helpfully illuminated by honor/shame analysis. 

The sixth chapter treats the Epistle to the Hebrews. DeSilva highlights the 
readers' past experience as one of verbal assaults on their honor, physical punishment, 
and the loss of material goods. Their present experience is one of flagging zeal. No 
specific crisis seems to be in view, but rather "the lingering effects of the believers' loss 
of status and esteem in their neighbor's eyes and their inability to regain a place in 
society." (p. 149) The ancient concept of patronage enters deSilva's discussion of 
Hebrews. Thus, the numerous comparative arguments in Hebrews are seen as 
identifying Jesus as a patron (or mediator of God's patronage) whose honored status 
exceeds that of prophets, angels, Moses, etc. The great danger faced by the readers is 
that of dishonoring their divine patron and thereby exchanging God's favor for God's 
wrath. DeSilva's use of honor/shame analysis provides a new way of understanding the 
difficult concepts of divine wrath and human fear in Hebrews. 

The last writing to be examined is the Apocalypse of John. DeSilva rightly 
points out that the Apocalypse, contrary to some simplified interpretations, actually 
addresses churches in diverse conditions (chapters 2-3). Christians in Asia Minor had 
accommodated themselves in varying degrees to pagan religious values. Much of this 
chapter is structured according to the responses of the three angels in Rev 14: the call 
to "fear God and give God glory," the declaration of Babylon's fallen, i.e. dishonored, 
condition, and the description of those who (shamefully) worship the beast. 

A danger with any interpretive method is the possibility of coloring the very 
material it purports to analyze with relative objectivity. A good methods works like a 
sieve to cull out particular nuggets of interest. A questionable method works like a 
tinted lens under which everything starts to take on the hue that is sought by the 
interpreter. Honor/shame analysis in the hands of different interpreters may function in 
either way. DeSilva generally operates with restraint, using the sieve. Only rarely did 
the method tend toward the lens, such as seemed to be the case in the chapter on the 
Thessalonian correspondence. This is a natural development, more a matter of 
enthusiasm with the method than of distortion. When your favorite tool is a hammer, 
little wonder that so many texts begin to resemble loose nails. In his conclusion, 
however, DeSilva shows awareness of the limitations of his method. He argues for an 
eclectic approach to "recover the full spectrum of meanings within Scripture." 

In summary, this text would be a useful supplement in introductory New 
Testament courses or a superb main text for courses in contemporary hermeneutics. 

N. Clayton Croy 



Frank J. Matera. New Testament Christology. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John 
Knox Press, 1999, 307 pages, $26.95 (paper). 

The author states, "This book was written to organize and summarize the 
Christologies already present in the New Testament to assist theologians and students 
in making greater use of the biblical data in the study of Christology. It differs from 
other NT Christologies by its use of narrative to uncover the Christology of the New 
Testament and by its focus on the Christology in the NT" (Preface). Thus, the subject 

117 



Book Reviews 

matter of this book is Christology within the confines of the NT and is approached 
through the methodology of narrative criticism. The author further states, "The working 
hypothesis of this book is simple: we can learn how the writings of the NT understand 
the person and work of Jesus Christ by paying attention to the explicit and implicit 
stories of Christ in the NT" (p. 3). The remainder of the book systematically analyzes 
the Christologies of each writing of the NT with the exception of Philemon, James, 2 
Peter, and Jude. 

Chapter 1 entitled "Crucified Messiah and Obedient Son of God" covers the 
Christologies of Mark and Matthew respectively. Chapter 2 entitled "Messiah and Lord 
of All" presents the Christology of Luke- Acts. Matera analyzes the Christology of each 
Synoptic Gospel according to its literary structure and unfolding narrative. The 
Christology of Acts is traced through the various speeches of Peter, Paul and Stephen 
with a view to ascertaining the underlying stories of Christ assumed in each 
presentation. 

In Chapter 3 on "The Climax of Israel's Story" the author deals with those letters 
whose Pauline authorship is not disputed. However, he includes 2 Thessalonians since 
the subject matter and the story presupposed is similar to 1 Thessalonians. In 
considering these letters, the author proceeds chronologically, beginning with the earlier 
letters and concluding with Paul's later correspondence in the following order: The 
Thessalonian correspondence, the Corinthian Correspondence, Galatians, Romans, and 
Philippians. Chapter 4 entitled "The Revelation of the Mystery" treats the deutero- 
Pauline epistles (Colossians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus). 

Chapter 5 entitled "Victory through Suffering" considers the Christologies of 1 
Peter, Hebrews, and Revelation. The common denominator here is the employment of 
Christology to encourage and strengthen the audience it addresses. In all these writings, 
therefore, Christology is in the service of the Christian life. Chapter 6 entitled "The 
Revelatory Word" treats the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles, especially 1 
John. Matera insists that the Christology of the Fourth Gospel must be read in light of 
the "privileged information" provided by the Prologue (1:1-18). 

Chapter 7 entided "The Diverse Unity of New Testament Christology" concludes 
the book. On the one hand, the author affirms that there are diverse Christologies in the 
NT. These diverse Christologies do not always complement each other. On the other 
hand, beyond these differences and tensions, there is a profound unity to the claims that 
the NT makes about Jesus in the stories it tells and presupposes. These claims are 
summarized under the following categories: (1) Jesus' messiahship; (2) Jesus' 
significance for Israel and the nations; (3) Jesus' relationship to the church and the 
world; (4) Jesus' meaning for the human condition; and (5) Jesus' relationship to God. 
The extensive notes to each chapter appear at the end of the volume. The book contains 
a select bibliography and index of subjects but no Scripture index. 

This volume is a refreshing approach to Christology in the NT from a narrative 
perspective. While mainly literary and theological in nature, the author touches on some 
historical aspects in the investigation of the subject matter, especially in connection with 
the occasion of the Epistles but also in considering the communities behind the Gospels. 
There are many brief exegetical discussions throughout the book and in the notes. The 
chief value of this work is the excellent summaries of the Christology of almost every 
book of the NT. The author displays a special interest in establishing the preexistence 

118 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

of Christ from the texts of the NT. In the final analysis, the Christologies of the NT are 
characterized by both unity and diversity but not simple uniformity nor contradiction. 

B. Keith Brewer, Drew University Graduate School 



Alister McGrath (general editor), The NIV Thematic Reference Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: 
Zondervan, 1999). xxv + 2150 pp., 16 color plates. $39.99. 

The distinctive approach of this Study Bible, based on the text of the New 
International Version (included in its entirety), is to lead the reader through selected 
passages dealing with and developing particular themes. This helpfully expands the 
more familiar "word study" approach fostered by concordances. Rather than looking 
up all the occurrences of the word "grace" in the NIV, the unnamed editors of the 729- 
page thematic section lead the reader to various passages that discuss God's grace (even 
though the word itself may not be used in every passage). Within the text of the NIV 
itself, one will find the customary introductions to each book of the Bible. These are 
silent with regard to critical concerns about authorship (e.g., there is no discussion of the 
multiple authorship of Isaiah, the Maccabean-period dating of Daniel, or the possible 
pseudonymity of 2 Peter), and of mixed value in terms of reflecting the presumed 
original situation of the addressees. Thus the introduction to Hebrews perpetuates the 
notion that this letter is addressed primarily to Jewish Christians tempted to revert to 
Judaism, although this is derived from the second century title rather than the text itself. 
The introduction to Romans shies away from mentioning one prominent reason for 
Romans, namely Paul's desire to secure the churches at Rome as a new support base for 
a mission to Spain. The introduction to Revelation, on the other hand, is the first I have 
read in a conservative study Bible to present the vision's purpose with such laudable 
precision: "to prepare the churches to face the increasing hostility from the Roman 
state," rather than the usual emphasis on encouragement in the midst of bloody 
persecution. The primary focus of these introductions is the listing of the major themes 
to which each book will make a contribution (keyed into the thematic outlines in the 
second half of the volume). 

The "Thematic Section" represents innumerable hours of labor sorting through 
and organizing the Biblical material by its various themes. These themes have been set 
out by a numerical code, the lOOO's laying out studies of themes related to God, the 
2000's to Jesus Christ, the 3000's to the Holy Spirit, the 4000's to natural phenomena in 
the Bible (e.g., plants, animals, weather, and the like), the 5000's to people, their bodies, 
their social and political arrangements, and the like, the 6000's to themes of sin and 
salvation, the 7000's to God's people throughout the ages, the 8000's to the life of faith, 
and the 9000's to eschatology. An alphabetical index allows the user quickly to locate 
the theme/topic of interest to him or her. 

On account of these extensive thematic outlines and general index, this volume 
is a treasure-trove of "theme studies" that might fuel adult Sunday School discussions 
from now till the Second Coming. It would certainly be a useful tool for learning in 
short compass what Scriptural texts touch on a given topic or theme that one wishes to 
study. It should not be treated as comprehensive, however, and the user would do well 
to complement the use of these thematic outlines with his or her own concordance 

119 



Book Reviews 

studies and reading of dictionary entries on the theme of interest in scholarly reference 
works (e.g., the Anchor Bible Dictionary or the eight volumes that will comprise the IVP 
Dictionary of the New Testament and Dictionary of the Old Testament). 

The reason for seeking out complementary resources for this Study Bible is 
twofold. First, despite the explicated purpose of the thematic section to be to allow 
Scripture to explain Scripture, it is evident that the compiling team's biases at several 
points enters in to direct how Scripture will explain itself. This is unavoidable in any 
such enterprise, to be sure, and the user of even the most seemingly objective of 
reference tools needs to be alert to the ways in which these biases can shape the tool and 
the study. It must be said up front that the compiling team has done an exceptional job 
avoiding some obvious denominational/sectarian biases: the thematic section and brief 
feature articles are outstandingly tolerant of the various positions on infant and 
believers' baptism and on various views of the millennium, for example. Nevertheless, 
there are more subtle biases of which one should be wary. For instance, the outlines 
suggest that codes of purity (clean and unclean things, sources of defilement, and 
concern for maintaining an undefiled state) are primarily an Old Testament 
phenomenon. Thus the outlines do not lead the reader to see how important language 
of "clean" and "unclean," or how potent the threat of "defilement," could be for the 
formation of Christian ethos and group boundaries. There may be, therefore, a subtle 
tendency toward stressing more of a disjunction between the ceremonial and ritual 
aspects of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant than the New Testament authors 
would have perceived themselves. 

The second reason is that one's study of Scripture is enhanced not only by reading 
Scripture but by immersing oneself in the world of Scripture, that web of social and 
cultural values and systems within which the Word took shape and had meaning. This 
Study Bible will not help one enter that world or hear the Word in a manner sensitive 
to its historical and cultural context, and so the user must supplement its use with other 
resources designed to cultivate this sensitivity, to attune modem students of Scripture 
to the foreign culture within which the Word became Flesh. If the framers of the 
thematic section had done more of this groundwork themselves, they would have, for 
example, discussed "gratitude" and response to receiving gifts together with the theme 
of "grace." This would have communicated to modem readers the inseparability of 
receiving gifts and retuming the favor in the ancient (and thus biblical) world. 

As long as one is committed to using this Study Bible in the context of different 
resources, each contributing its particular strength and nuances to one's appreciation of 
Scripture, one will find the NIV Thematic Reference Bible a valuable resource, an 
excellent starting point for engagement with the Scriptures on a given topic. My caveats 
aside, I am personally grateful for the obvious love for Scripture and diligence in 
execution evidenced in this volume. David A. deSilva 



Mark Allan Powell, Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modem Historians View the 
Man from Galilee, Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998, 238 pp. $22.00. 

After summarizing admirably the recent study of Jesus, which is awash in 
viewpoints, methodological discussions, and stalemates, Mark Allan Powell states that, 

120 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

no matter what these scholars conclude about Jesus, the personal confessions of 
Christians will go on. Powell calls such confessions the "Jesus of Story" rather than the 
"Jesus of history" and it is highly appropriate for a confessional Lutheran, such as 
Powell is, to contend for a view that fundamentally was established at the turn of the 
century by Martin Kahler, namely, that the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith are 
distinguishable in how we can know each as well as the significance of each. Though 
his conclusion surely undercuts any logically-critical theological value of the quest of 
the historical Jesus, Powell writes here with exquisite clarity and a balance of judgment 
required of those who want to sketch the current scene for others. 

The book contains chapters that introduce and summarize (1,2, 3, and 10) and also 
a series of chapter-length summaries and critiques of the most important studies of Jesus 
of late in English (Jesus Seminar, Crossan, Borg, Sanders, Meier, and Wright). Quickly, 
and appropriately for a book with this purpose, Powell surveys how we got to where we 
are today (chp. 1) and then, after a nice clear summary of contemporary methodological 
debates (chp. 2), Powell delves a little more deeply into some significant books which 
he has chosen not to analyze in detail (chp. 3: Horsley, Vermes, Smith, Witherington, 
and Downing). The study of Horsley deserves more treatment than he gives since 
Horsley's book is comprehensive, innovative and influential - and in some senses 
anticipates the lines eventually taken by Borg and Wright. 

The chapter-long analyses of the major studies are each composed of the 
following: method, the portrait of Jesus for that scholar, and critique. For each, Powell 
is balanced and descriptive; his summaries are accurate (and I have read each of the 
books he reviews); and his critique neither carps nor focuses on minor points. For each 
he incorporates both what major Jesus scholars have said as well as prominent reviews. 

It is hard to review a book that reviews other books but the following points are 
worthy of attention: first, Powell is fair and accurate. For this reason alone the book will 
be useful for years to come. Second, because the book is comprehensive, it can serve as 
a primer on Gospel methodology as well as an introduction to the scholarship in the 
field. Third, Powell's focus on methodology for each scholar corrects many recent 
surveys of the field and sets the book apart. Fourth, the syntheses of the final chapter 
(covering method, Jesus and Judaism, eschatology, politics, the supernatural, and self- 
consciousness/intention) not only draw the whole book together but also provide an 
agenda for where students might enter the discussion. If I have one criticism it is that the 
author chose to select from the modem discussion only those books that were written 
in English. This leaves out three significant books that operate with different methods 
and draw different conclusions about Jesus (J. Gnilka, H. Schiirmann, J. Becker). A 
reviewer can hardly give a book a more hearty recommendation. 

Scot McKnight, North Park University 



Adolf Schlatter. The History of the Christ: The Foundation of New Testament Theology. 
Translated by Andreas J. Kostenberger. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 
1997, 426 pages, $29.99 (hardcover). 

Adolf Schlatter (1852-1938) was Professor of NT and Systematic Theology at 
Tubingen from 1898-1922. This work originally appeared as the first volume of the 

121 



Book Reviews 

author's Die Theologie des Neuen Testaments in 1909 witii the subtitle Das Wort Jesu. 
The second edition of this work was published in 1920 with the new subtitle of Die 
Geschichte des Christus. Appearing for the first time in English, the present book is a 
translation from the third edition of the same work published in 1923. The translator's 
preface explains Schlatter' s appeal and contribution as a conservative biblical interpreter 
and theologian. Schlatter was convinced that biblical exegesis was the only proper 
foundation for systematic theology. This work on the life and ministry of Jesus is 
divided into five main parts. Part I on "The Preparation for Jesus' Work" describes the 
background of the ministry of Jesus with special attention to John the Baptist. Part II 
on "The Turning Point in Jesus Life" commences with the baptism of Jesus and 
concludes with Jesus' residence in Capernaum. Part III on "The Offer of God's Grace 
to Israel" surveys the public ministry of Jesus. Part IV on "Jesus' Way to the Cross" 
chronicles the rejection of Jesus by his contemporaries and subsequent Passion. And 
finally. Part V on "The Easter Account" narrates the resurrection of Jesus. Schlatter's 
method of presentation is a descriptive synthesis of the biblical material which has the 
character of a Gospel "harmony." The relatively few and brief footnotes are located at 
the bottom of each page. The book includes a fairly detailed subject index followed by 
a scripture index. B. Keith Brewer 



Hans Schwarz. Christology. Grand Rapids, Michigan and Cambridge, U.K.: William 
B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998, 352 pages, $25.00 (paper). 

Following a brief preface and introduction, the book is divided into three main 
parts. The first main part of the book on "In Search of the Historical Jesus" consists of 
a single chapter which surveys "The Quest for Jesus" in three sections. The first section 
discusses Jesus in the eyes of modem reason and includes the Jesus of the 
Enlightenment, Jesus in the Nineteenth Century, and Jesus according to the Social 
Gospel. The second section concerns a new look at the sources with presentations on 
the limits of rational enquiry, analyzing the synoptic material through various methods 
of biblical criticism, the New Quest for the Historical Jesus, and the continued quest 
(represented by three groups of German, Scandinavian, and Anglo-American scholars). 
The third and final section considers the third wave of current Jesus scholarship and 
discusses the non-eschatological Jesus of Borg, the eschatological but non-apocalyptic 
Jesus of Witherington, and the emphasis on studying Jesus in context through 
anthropology, sociology, and cultural analysis. 

The second main part of the book on "The Biblical Testimony and Its Assessment 
Through History" consists of three chapters. Chapter 2 discusses "The History of Jesus" 
in terms of the life and destiny of Jesus and the proclamation of Jesus. In the first half 
of this chapter, Schwarz covers the date and place of Jesus' birth, Jesus' descent, the 
relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist, the duration and extent of Jesus' public 
ministry, the trial and death of Jesus, and the empty tomb and the epiphanies of the 
resurrected Jesus. In the second half of this chapter, Schwarz considers Jesus and the 
law, announcing the kingdom, and the messiahship of Jesus. Chapter 3 on "Jesus the 
Christ" begins with a discussion on the centrality of the resurrection and then looks at 
the witness of the Synoptic Gospels, the Johannine witness, and the Pauline witness. 

122 



Ashland Theological Journal 32 (2000) 

Chapter 4 focuses on four stages of christological reflection: (1) the early Church; (2) 
the Medieval period; (3) the reformation period; and (4) the modem era. 

The third main part of the book on "The Relevance of Jesus Christ for Today" 
consists of three chapters and an excursus. Chapter 5 on "The Human Face of 
God"discusses bridging the ugly and broad ditch of history, Jesus from the perspective 
of various Jewish scholars, Jesus' unique relationship to God, and Jesus' self-awareness. 
Following this chapter is an excursus on "Incarnation, Preexistence, and Virgin Birth." 
Chapter 6 on "Cross and Resurrection" discusses Jesus' self-interpretation of his death, 
the salvational significance of Jesus' death, the enigmatic character of Christ's 
resurrection, the turning point of the resurrection, and a final section on feminist 
Christologies. Chapter 7 on "Christ's Presence and Future" discusses the descent into 
hell and the ascension of Christ, the issue of the scope of salvation, the relationship 
between the kingdom of God and the Church, and the return of Christ. The book 
concludes with subject, name, and scripture reference indices. The footnotes are 
generally brief bibliographic references and are located at the bottom of each page. 

This well-written book is very comprehensive in scope. However, many 
prominent names and other matters are left out of the discussion which one would 
expect at various points: source criticism is not mentioned in connection with analyzing 
the Synoptic material, Giinther Bomkamm in connection with the New Quest for the 
Historical Jesus, N. T. Wright in connection with the eschatological but non-apocalyptic 
view of Jesus, and Hans Kiing in connection with the scope of salvation, just to name 
a few items. The author raises the issue of critical historical investigation in his 
presentation of Jesus but does not fully resolve the challenge to contemporary faith in 
my opinion. While he is critical of the criterion of dissimilarity, he does not suggest 
another methodology for determining the authenticity of the Gospel tradition. The third 
part of the book is the most unique and interesting. In the final analysis, Jesus is, for the 
author, in the title of a previous work by John A. T. Robinson, "the human face of God." 
The author draws upon many German sources throughout the discussion. 

B. Keith Brewer 



Richard P. Thompson and Thomas E. Phillips, eds. Literary Studies in Luke-Acts. 
Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1998. 

This collection of essays in honor Joseph B. Tyson on the occasion of his 
retirement from Southern Methodist University is arranged into three broad areas 
covering the main interests of Tyson's scholarly works: "Luke and Acts within First- 
Century Judaism, the New Testament and Early Christianity," "Lukan Themes, 
Characters and Rhetoric," and "Jews, Judaism, and Anti-Judaism in the Lukan Writings 
and Scholarship." Space constraints prevent even a summary of each essay. Instead, 
this review will describe one representative essay from each of the three sections of the 
book. 

The essays in the first section cover quite disparate ground in connecting Luke- 
Acts to its wider socio-historical context. The essays include: "Crucifixion, Qumran, 
and the Jewish Interrogation of Jesus," by Darrell L. Bock; "The Present State of the 
Synoptic Problem," by William R. Farmer; "Luke's Sequential Use of the Sayings of 

123 



Book Reviews 

Jesus from Matthew's Great Discourses: A chapter in the Source-Critical Analysis 
Luke on the Two-Gospel (Neo-Griesbach) Hypothesis," by David B. Peabody; "1 
Gospel of Luke in the Second Century CE," by Arthur J. Bellinzoni; "Acts and 
Pauline Corpus Revisited: Peter's Speech at the Jerusalem Conference," by William 
Walker, Jr.; and "Acts 9:1-29 and Early Church Tradition," by John T. Townsei 
Bock's essay, "Crucifixion, Qumran